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Peter King’s Transformation

January 24, 2011, 4:45 pm | Posted by Nick Sementelli

William Wan has a good story today in the Washington Post on Rep. Peter King’s upcoming hearings on the alleged “radicalization” of American Muslims. Wan tracks the evolution of Rep. King from friend and champion of the Muslim community to one of its biggest antagonists.

As Wan illuminates, King reacted strongly to a perceived betrayal by the Muslim community after the 9/11 attacks. But King’s perception seems to rest on a few isolated quotations from individuals affiliated with a mosque on Long Island that made it into a newspaper article in the immediate aftermath of the attacks.

The day after the newspaper article appeared, the mosque’s founder, Faroque Khan, went to a neighboring synagogue in a largely unsuccessful attempt to retract and explain what members of his mosque had said.

In the weeks that followed, Khan and others issued progressively stronger statements condemning al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden for the attacks. They forwarded these to King’s office, but the damage was already done.

To King, the fact that those words were ever uttered branded the mosque’s leaders as radicals.

King’s refusal, even nine years later, to accept the good-faith retraction and apology from the Long Island mosque leaders suggests a wide communication gap that has grown between the congressman and Muslim leaders in his district. It’s clear from their continued outreach to Rep. King that they want to restore their previous relationship; here’s hoping he accepts their invitation.

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