March 11, 2011– Chicago leaders gathered to share their concerns about the controversial congressional hearings being led by Rep. Peter King on the supposed radicalization of American Muslims. Below are statements of several leaders on the issue.
Jane Ramsey, executive director of the Jewish Council on Urban Affairs
The Jewish Council on Urban Affairs will remain vigilant with our friends from the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago and many other Muslim organizations with which we work and partner. It has been our joy to work together over the number of years to create a better Chicago and to create a better nation.
Azam Nizamuddin, chair of Interfaith Coordinating Committee for the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago
Our concern is while our nation is in the midst of one of the worst economic periods since the Great Depression, while our local, state and federal governments are unable to balance their budgets, Congressman King is engaging in Islamophobia merely for political posturing… We are concerned that the hearings are not really seriously engaging in these issues but are really more or less trying to foment fear and misunderstanding of a religious minority.
Asaf Bar-Tura, coordinator of JCUA’s Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative
In these 10 years of the Jewish-Muslim Community Building Initiative, our Muslim counterparts have been true partners on the journey towards a more healthy, strong and diverse democracy in America. As communities of faith, we share a commitment to civically engaging our members and we all face various challenges. But to single out one community is not only an insult to all of us, but it is dangerous to all of us. We call on our elected officials to carry out the task of ensuring national security with determination and with sensitivity, but not with misguided media spectacles.
Alie Kabba, executive director of the United African Organization
At a time when we as a nation have demonstrated our ability to extend the democratic space and to move towards Dr. King’s dream of a beloved community, at a time when we are celebrating the first African-American president of the United States and the first Jewish mayor of the city of Chicago, we as a people must learn that the rest of the world looks up to us…The American Muslim community is an integral part of the past, the present and future of the United States of America. What we see today does not really bode well for all of us. Congressman King is basically appeasing the dark instincts in our democracy. Those forces that only seek to look out for the other, the weak, the vulnerable, the marginalized.
Scott Alexander, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations at Catholic Theological Union at Chicago
The sham that Rep. King is attempting to foist on the American people in his congressional hearings yesterday on Capitol Hill is as appalling as it is destructive. It is appalling that a man that is to Muslims and Islam what a KKK member is to blacks or a Holocaust denier is to Jews can be seen as a credible investigator of a community which he clearly misunderstands and for which he has great antipathy.
Oussama Jammal, vice president of the Mosque Foundation
[Rep. Peter King] said “Unfortunately we have too many mosques in this country.” I really find that troubling. Do we have too many synagogues in this country; the question is going to be next. And how many Catholic churches and how many more temples? What is exactly the problem with Rep. Peter King—too many mosques in the United States? I thought that he is looking for the security of our country not the number of how many people worship…It seems that Rep. Peter King is not only ill-informed, but totally out of touch with reality and casts doubts—serious doubts on his ability to head our Homeland Security Committee and utilize its members in productive and meaningful tasks.
Noreen Nasir, senior at Northwestern University
I have been raised with values of tolerance, peace and service to not only my community, but my country as well. As I prepare to enter the workforce, I am excited to serve my nation and join millions of other Americans in doing so. I love this country and the values for which it stands and I will continue to fight for those values for as long as I live. But as a Muslim American in this country right now I feel hurt. I feel targeted and I feel singled out in the very country in which I was born and raised. The Islamic institutions with which I was raised have helped me develop into a patriotic American Muslim and my pride in this fact overshadows any message of hate, racism or bigotry.