“Shame is such a critical part of our culture, but we need to move beyond that,” she said after the hearing. “We have to clean our dirty laundry, and that only happens in the light.” Nomani, who was at the first hearing and found it frightening, said there’d been progress and that the discussion was “more thoughtful than before.”
But witness Faiza Patel, a co-director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center for Justice, and other members of the committee disagreed, seeing the hearings as potential alienation of the Muslim American community.
“The hearings drive a wedge between Muslims and their fellow Americans,” Patel said.
“When members of Congress hold hearings about the ‘radicalization’ of American Muslims and expressly place an entire community under the spotlight, it sends the message to all Americans that the government views this community as a security threat. And the public appears to be receiving this message loud and clear.”
Patel cited a Pew study that showed Muslim Americans as generally opposed to violence against civilians and holding a “very unfavorable” view of al Qaida. She said American Muslims were also key to uncovering homegrown terrorism.
Other critics of the hearings included Democratic Reps. Sheila Jackson Lee and Gene Green, both of Texas. Jackson Lee said actions taken to address American Muslim radicalization had infringed on civil liberties. Green said the hearings were unfair and that there should be hearings on the radicalization of Christians and other groups, too.
“I want to be fair to Muslims,” he said. “To be fair, you have to go beyond discussing the radicalization of Islam, and we’re not doing that.”
King and Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, however, urged the committee not to overlook the correlation between Islam and national security, saying the threat is there even if the Islam in question is extremist and not representative of the majority of Muslims.