A coalition of 51 religious and civil rights groups is calling on congressional leaders to stop upcoming hearings on Muslim extremism in the U.S. or have the investigation refocused to include other hate groups.
The coalition, working with the San Francisco-based Muslim Advocates legal organization, said the March hearings led by Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, would demonize Muslim Americans and persuade many of them not to cooperate with police.
"Our first preference is for him to kibosh the whole thing," Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, said Wednesday. "As it is framed now, the hearings are targeting an entire faith community, and that's not a proper exercise of congressional authority."
The ranking Democrat on the panel, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson of Mississippi, wrote to King on Tuesday suggesting that he broaden the scope of the investigation to look at other violent groups, such as neo-Nazi organizations.
"In the final analysis," he told King, "the ideology of a bomb-maker matters less than the lethal effects of his creation."