February 01, 2011
Human Rights First Joins Broad Coalition to Address “Divisive” King Hearings
Washington, DC – Today, Human Rights First in coalition with 50 other civil rights and human rights organizations urged Congressional leadership to object to divisive hearings that House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King (R-NY) plans to hold later this month. The hearings, which have sparked growing public opposition, will focus on what King believes to be the “radicalization” of millions of American Muslims. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, the 51 signing organizations asked the leaders to urge Chairman King to “address violence motivated by extremist beliefs in all its forms, in a full, fair and objective way.” The letter noted that the hearings should “proceed from a clear understanding that individuals are responsible for their actions, not entire communities." The letter noted, “The essence of our country is e pluribus unum: out of many, practicing their faith freely and contributing each in their own way, comes a strong, unified one. The hearings planned by Chairman King, however, are inconsistent with this vision of America. Singling out a group of Americans for government scrutiny based on their faith is divisive and wrong. These hearings will inevitably examine activities protected by the First Amendment, an affront to fundamental freedoms upon which our country was founded. It harkens back to hearings held in the 1950s by then-U.S. Senator Joe McCarthy. That dark chapter in our history taught us that Congress has a solemn duty to wield its investigatory power responsibly.” Among the diverse array of signatories to the letter are: Amnesty International USA, the Japanese American Citizens League, the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty, Muslim Advocates, American Muslim Law Enforcement Officers Association, Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services, and the Tanenbaum Center for Interreligious Understanding. A complete list of signatory organizations follows the letter.