muslimerican

(A woman protests in New York City March 6, 2011/Jessica Rinaldi )

The U.S. House of Representatives will investigate radicalization in the American-Muslim community, sparking outrage that the probe is a witch hunt akin to the 1950s anti-Communist campaign. With al Qaeda and its affiliates openly trying to recruit Americans and Muslims inside the United States for attacks, House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King called congressional hearings on the subject “absolutely essential”.

“I am facing reality, my critics are not,” King said on MSNBC. “Al Qaeda is changing its tactics, they realize that it’s very difficult to attack from the outside, they’re recruiting from within.”

King, who will lead a hearing on Thursday, has questioned the cooperation by Muslim Americans with U.S. law enforcement authorities and accused mosques of being a breeding ground for radicalization.

Critics say the hearings smack of the effort in the 1950s by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy, who presided over congressional hearings to expose and ostracize Communists and their sympathizers in the United States. Muslim and civil rights advocates have condemned King’s assertions, countering that Muslims in the United States are being unfairly targeted and pointing to tips they have provided to authorities in the past.

“This hearing does not represent the mainstream view,” said imam Shamsi Ali, who organized a protest against the probe in New York where he works closely with the police department on community relations.  “I don’t see any reason for that perception about Muslims not cooperating,” he said, noting a Muslim vendor alerted authorities to the failed Times Square car bombing in 2010.  That incident, coupled with an alleged bomb plot uncovered last month involving a 20-year-old Saudi student studying in Texas, are among several plots that have boosted concerns by U.S. officials that al Qaeda and its affiliates are determined to strike inside the United States any way they can.