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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union, along with several other human rights and civil liberties organizations, sent a letter today to House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Rep. Peter King (R-NY) expressing deep concern about his committee’s upcoming hearing on the so-called “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” The hearing is scheduled for Thursday, March 10.
U.S.House Committee on Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20515
American Association of University Professors
American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression
American Friends Service Committee
American Library Association
American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
Americans United for Separation of Church and State
Arab American Institute
Bill of Rights Defense Committee
Center for Media and Democracy
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Defending Dissent Foundation
DRUM- Desis Rising Up & Moving
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Friends of the Earth
Greater NYC for Change
Humanitarian Law Project
Muslim Bar Association of New York
Muslim Bar Association of Southern California
Muslim Public Affairs Council
National Coalition Against Censorship
New Security Action
NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia
Pakistan American Public Affairs Committee
People For the American Way
Pipe Organs/Golden Ponds Farm
Queens Federation of Churches
Secular Coalition for America
Sikh Council on Religion and Education
South Asian Americans Leading Together
South Asian Network
The Sikh Coalition
Members of the House Committee on Homeland Security
Speaker John Boehner
Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi
[ii]We are disturbed, for example, by your unsubstantiated and divisive assertion that 85 percent of American mosques are run by extremists, especially given that experts on the subject have found that American Muslims’ attendance at mosques helps to prevent violent extremism. See David Schanzer, Charles Kurzman, and Ebrahim Mooza, Anti-terror Lessons of Muslim-Americans, National Institute of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice, p. 1, (Jan. 6, 2010) available at http://fds.duke.edu/db?attachment-34--4912-view-1255.
[iii]Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178, 188 (1957).
[iv]Recent “radicalization” theories are not supported by empirical evidence. For example, the 2007 New York Police Department (“NYPD’) report, Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat, drew quick condemnation from the civil liberties and Muslim communities for its serious factual and methodological flaws. New York City Muslim and Arab community leaders formed a coalition in response to the NYPD report and issued a detailed analysis criticizing NYPD for wrongfully “positing a direct causal relation between Islam and terrorism such that expressions of faith are equated with signs of danger,” potentially putting millions of Muslims at risk. Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition, CountertERRORism Policy: MACLC’s Critique of the NYPD’s Report on Homegrown Terrorism (2008) available at http://maclcnypdcritique.files.wordpress.com/2008/11/counterterrorism-policy-final-paper3.pdf. See also Aziz Huq, Concerns with Mitchell D. Silber and Arvin Bhatt, N.Y. Police Dep’t, Radicalization in the West: The Homegrown Threat, New York University School of Law, Brennan Center for Justice (Aug. 30, 2007) available at http://brennan.3cdn.net/436ea44aae969ab3c5_sbm6vtxgi.pdf; American Civil Liberties Union et al., Coalition Memo to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Regarding “Homegrown Terrorism”(May 7, 2008) available at http://www.aclu.org/safefree/general/35209leg20080507.html. NYPD added a “clarification” in 2009. See http://maclc1.wordpress.com/2009/09/08/maclc-90809-letter-response-to-nypd-statement-of-clarification/.
[v]Annals of Congress (Sat., Aug. 15, 1789) pp. 730–31; McCreary County v. American Civil Liberties Union of Ky., 545 U.S. 844, 876 (2005) (“The Framers and the citizens of their time intended not only to protect the integrity of individual conscience in religious matters, but to guard against the civic divisiveness that follows when the government weighs in on one side of religious debate; nothing does a better job of roiling society, a point that needed no explanation to the descendants of English Puritans and Cavaliers (or Massachusetts Puritans and Baptists)”); Lemon v. Kurtzman, 403 U.S. 602, 622 (1971) (“political division along religious lines was one of the principal evils against which the First Amendment was intended to protect”).
[vi]“51 Organizations Tell Congress that Hearings Targeting American Muslims are Divisive,” Muslim Advocates (Feb. 1, 2011) available at http://www.muslimadvocates.org/latest/51_organizations_tell_congress.html
[vii]Arun Venugopal, King’s Hearings on Radical Islam Draw Rival Protest Groups, WNYC Newsblog (Feb. 23, 2011) available at http://www.wnyc.org/blogs/wnyc-news-blog/2011/feb/22/rival-protests-rep-kings-office-over-islam-hearings/
[viii]See Counterterrorism Experts Reject Peter King’s Targeting of Muslims, National Security Network (Jan. 28, 2011) available at http://www.nsnetwork.org/node/1847; “Baca: No Evidence Muslims Not Cooperating with Police,” CBS Los Angeles (Feb. 11, 2011) available at http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2011/02/07/baca-no-evidence-us-muslims-not-cooperating-with-police/
[ix]See Charles Kurzman, “Muslim-American Terrorism Since 9/11: An Accounting,” Triangle Center on Terrorism and Homeland Security (Feb. 2, 2011) available at http://sanford.duke.edu/centers/tcths/about/documents/Kurzman_Muslim-American_Terrorism_Since_911_An_Accounting.pdf
[x]See, e.g., Hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, “Working with Communities to Disrupt Terror Plots” (Mar. 17, 2010); Hearing of the House Homeland Security Committee Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, “Radicalization, Information Sharing and Community Outreach: Protecting the Homeland from Homegrown Terror” (Apr. 5, 2007).