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80+ Long Island Faith Leaders Call on Rep. Peter King to Cancel Muslim Hearings

February 17, 2011, 9:46 am | Posted by Kristin Ford

Urge Dialogue Instead of Divisive, Counterproductive “Muslim Radicalization” Congressional Hearings

Over 80 people of faith from Long Island, including Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and interfaith leaders, sent a letter today to Representative Peter King (R-NY), urging him to cancel his planned Congressional hearings to investigate claims of “radicalization” in the American Muslim community. These diverse faith leaders believe the singling out of the Muslim community undermines fundamental American values and is counterproductive to improving national security.

The signers urge Rep. King, who represents part of Long Island, to “conven[e] a dialogue among faith leaders, law enforcement and elected officials” rather than hold hearing that “will only further divide our community and undermine our nation’s highest ideals.”

The hearings have attracted national controversy and concern among religious, civil rights , and national security organizations. Representatives Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Bennie Thompson (D-MS) have urged Rep. King to broaden the scope of the hearings to account for the array of threats our nation faces, but Representative King has refused. A poll released this week by Public Religion Research Institute also shows that nearly three-quarters (72%) of Americans agree that Congress should investigate religious extremism anywhere it exists and not single out Muslim -Americans.

Rep. King’s stated motivation for the hearings is a concern that Muslim Americans do not adequately cooperate with law enforcement but he continues to ignore prominent law enforcement officials who disagree with his claim on Muslim cooperation.

Full text of the letter is here or below:

Dear Representative Peter King,

As religious leaders and people of faith across Long Island, we stand together to express our profound concern about the Congressional hearings you have proposed to investigate the Muslim-American community. We fear this effort will only further divide our community and undermine our nation’s highest ideals. We urge you to cancel these hearings.

Protecting our nation requires allegiance to the fundamental values that give life to our democracy. A commitment to pluralism and respect for diversity are strengths in the fight against terrorism. We agree that law enforcement must find practical solutions to stop terrorism, whether these threats come from religious or non-religious extremists. Muslim-Americans have consistently denounced terrorism and worked closely with law enforcement to prevent violence. Building and maintaining trust with the Muslim community is crucial to furthering this cooperation, and we fear your hearings will only sow greater distrust and division at a time when unity and moral courage are needed.

A more constructive approach to strengthening the bonds of trust that bolster our security and protect our values would be convening a dialogue among faith leaders, law enforcement and elected officials such as yourself. It is with a spirit of goodwill and sincere hope that we propose beginning such an initiative with you.

Let us remember the lessons of history. Entire communities should never be targeted for suspicion of disloyalty. During World War II, Japanese Americans were deprived of their rights and forced into internment camps because of blanket distrust of their commitment to our country. The McCarthy hearings became a shameful national spectacle that falsely impugned the loyalty and destroyed the lives of many Americans. Catholics were once demonized as threats to democracy beholden to a foreign power. Jews and African Americans have faced centuries of suspicion and prejudice. Today, Muslim-Americans in many communities face fierce opposition when they propose to build mosques and worship peacefully. A growing number of Muslims are victims of hate crimes. This bigotry and discrimination, rooted in fear and ignorance, diminishes us all and unfairly maligns Americans who teach our children, serve our country, live peacefully and believe in the American dream.

Last month, our nation was shocked by a savage shooting spree in Arizona. This brazen attack killed or injured fellow Americans, including your colleague in the House of Representatives, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. As we mourn together in the wake of this painful tragedy, leaders of both parties have called for an elevated civic dialogue that transcends fear-mongering and polarization. These hearings are unworthy of that noble goal.

Rev. Mark Lukens, O.C.C.

Pastor, Bethany United Church of Christ

Chair, The Interfaith Alliance,

Long Island Chapter

Rev. Gregory J. Cappuccino

Pastor

St. Jane Frances de Chantal

Wantagh, NY

Rabbi Joshua Lobel

Temple Chaverim

Plainview, NY

Rev. D. James French, S.J.

Pastor and Superior of the Jesuit Community

St. Anthony’s Parish

Oceanside, NY

Rev. William F. Brisotti

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church,

Wyandanch, NY

Sister Jeanne Clark, OP

Coordinator of Pax Christi Long Island

West Islip, NY

Sister Rosalie A. Carven, CSJ

West Babylon, NY

Sr. Alice McVey CSJ

Social Ministry Coordinator

Our Lady of Grace Church

West Babylon, NY

Sister Eileen McCann, CSJ

St. Joseph’s Convent

Brentwood, NY

S. Kerry Handal, CSJ

St. Joseph Convent

Brentwood, NY

Rev. Chloe Breyer

Interfaith Center of New York

Lisa Sharon Harper

New York Faith & Justice

Sister Marie Danaher, O.P.

Pastoral Associate

Sacred Heart Parish

North Merrick, NY

Sister Mary Ann Crimmins

Our Lady of Grace Convent

West Babylon, NY

M. Athar Suhail

President

Masjid Darul Qur’an

The Muslim Center of Long Island

Rabbi Michael A. White

Senior Rabbi

Temple Sinai of Roslyn

Roslyn Heights, NY

Habeeb U. Ahmed

Chairman, Board of Trustees

Islamic Center of Long Island

Westbury, NY

Commissioner

Human Rights Commission

Nassau County

Rabbi Michael S. Churgel, RJE

Temple Beth Elohim

Old Bethpage, NY

Sister Barbara Gooding, OSU

Ursuline Sister of Tildonk

Brentwood, Long Island

Sister Eugenia Calabrese, CSJ

Congregation of St. Joseph

Brentwood, Long Island

Sister Mary Beth Moore, SC

Sister of Charity

Wantagh, NY

Miriam H. Corr

Sister of St. Joseph

Brentwood, NY

Rabbi Irwin A. Zeplowitz

The Community Synagogue

Port Washington, NY

Rev. JoAnn Barrett

Gathering of Light Multifaith Spiritual Fellowship

Dix Hills, NY

Tahir Qureshi

Chairman Board of Trustees

Islamic Association of Long Island

Selden, NY

Nancy Dwyer

Pax Christi Long Island

Valley Stream, NY

Mary Hughes OP

Prioress

Sisters of St. Dominic

Amityville, NY

Richard Tibbets

Recording Secretary

The Interfaith Alliance

Long Island Chapter

Floral Park, NY

Dolores Tibbets

Treasurer

The Interfaith Alliance

Long Island Chapter

Floral Park, NY

Rev. Angela Cesa

Albertson, NY

Luis Valenzuela

Executive Director

Long Island Immigrant Alliance

Amityville, NY

Rabbi Randy Sheinberg

Temple Tikvah

New Hyde Park, NY

Martin Melkonian

Department of Economics

Hofstra University

Iqbal M. Chaudhry

President Elect

IALI (Selden Mosque)

Coram, NY

Syed Khalid

Scientist, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Upton, NY

Mara Bard

Coordinator of the Long Island School of the Americas Watch

Nassau Chapter.

Baldwin, NY

Richard Sackett

Suffolk Progressive Vision

Moriches, NY

Rathi Raja

Hindu Faith

Manhasset, Long Island

Karen Sackett

Suffolk Progressive Vision

Veterans for Peace Long Island

Moriches, NY

Nina Uchida E.

Women In Black

South Country Peace Group

Bellport, NY

Eve Sokol

Women in Black

South Country Peace Group

Bellport, NY

Bill Kokell

Veterans For Peace Long Island

South Country Peace Group

Bellport, NY

Margaret Melkonian

Pax Christi LI Council Member

Director

Long Island Alliance for Peaceful Alternatives

Garden City, NY

Sheila Croke

Administrator

Pax Christi Long Island

Greenlawn, NY

Peter Kingsley

Huntington Station, NY

Barbara Kingsley

Huntington Station, NY

Charlotte Koons

Northport, NY

Ben Bortin

Staten Island, NY

Shirley Romaine

Great Neck, NY

Stanley Romaine

Great Neck, NY

Rosemarie Zacchi

Suffolk Peace Network

RuthClaire Weintraub

Huntington Station, NY

Heather Cottin

Freeport, NY

Arlene Holmes

Kings Park, NY

Gretchen Haynes

Northport, NY

Religious Society of Friends [Quaker]

Gary Kelly

Massapequa Park, NY

Agnes Kelley

Massapequa Park, NY

Rev. Larry D. Jennings, Sr

Pastor

Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church

Huntington, NY

Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper

Temple Beth El

Huntington, NY

Shaik Ubaid, MD

Co-chair

New York Chapter

Muslim Peace Coalition, USA

Seemi Ahmed

Co-Chair

Muslim Peace Coalition

Albertson, NY

Anne Cimino

Pax Christi, LI

Freeport, NY

Larry McNally

Northport, NY

Bishop Georges Franck

Huntington Station, NY

Sonia Palacio-Grottola

Commack, NY

Arfa Khan MD, FACR

Professor of Radiology

Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Chief of Thoracic Radiology

Long Island Jewish Medical Center

New Hyde Park, NY

Rev. David Czeisel

Dix Hills, NY

E. Russell

Dix Hills United Methodist Church

Dix Hills, NY

Deron Ozley

Dix Hills United Methodist Church

Dix Hills, NY

Richard Koubek, PhD

Chair, Roundtable for the Common Good

Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal Church

Wyandanch, NY

Marcia Specht

Huntington Station, NY

Ed Roldan

Long Island Latino Teachers Association

Chairperson, Public Relations Committee

Bay Shore, NY

Suffolk County Interfaith Anti-Bias Task Force

Joan Ryan

St. Joseph’s College

Patchogue, NY

Charles Wittman

Josephine Girardin

Karen Martinez

Claire Z. Bock

Vera Weiss

Sister Patricia Grant CSJ

Audrey Korth

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