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Jasser signals what to expect at King’s hearings

March 8, 2011, 2:59 pm | Posted by Dan Nejfelt

Yesterday morning, CNN’s American Morning hosted Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel opposite Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, a self-styled yet uncredentialed expert on radical Islam and terrorism who Congressman King has called as a witness for Thursday’s hearing. The contrast between Eboo’s factual evidence and positive emphasis on the need for unity among Muslims and nonMuslims stood in marked contrast to Jasser’s vague, sweeping accusations about the Muslim community.

One line in particular from Jasser jumped out at me:

“American Muslim communities, I think, have been too busy circling the wagons, and inflaming this concept of anti-Muslim bigotry, et cetera, rather than dealing with self-criticism, reform and I think that would be the best way to earn the respect and companionship of the rest of America.”

Since Jasser is a witness at the hearings and presumably is not saying anything on TV that he plans to contradict in Congressional testimony, it’s worth taking a moment to unpack his argument here.

1) Jasser and King have offered no empirical evidence that American Muslims are “circling the wagons” rather than fully participating in efforts to prevent terrorism. In fact, it’s an unfalsifiable rhetorical device to put an opponent on the defensive – try proving a negative in a debate some time; it’s practically impossible.

2) Coming from someone in King’s camp, the claim that American Muslims are “inflaming this concept of anti-Muslim bigotry” is absurd. King has claimed – with no factual basis — that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are under the control radicalized leaders, has framed his hearings in a way that begins with a conclusion of guilt, has refused requests to produce law enforcement witnesses to support his very serious claim that Muslims do not cooperate with law enforcement, and originally tapped a witness who claims that “there is no moderate Islam.” If anyone connected to this story is inflaming anti-Muslim bigotry, it is Peter King.

3) In the same sentence in which Jasser accuses American Muslims of being insular and oversensitive, he also directly argues that the rest of America does not respect Muslims or regard them with “companionship,” and that it’s incumbent upon Muslims to earn the right to be treated as a neighbor. Jasser seems to believe the Muslim community should be held “guilty until proven innocent.” In effect, he’s demanding that Muslims give the rest of us a reason to not regard them with distrust and hostility.

The entire video is well worth watching. In sum, Jasser is advocating the investigation not of a specific threat to national security, but a general inquiry into a religious group that he believes nurtures an extremist mindset that in rare circumstances leads to violence. That is a prejudiced and dangerous premise for Congressional investigation.

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