Who’s Speaking at Rep. Peter King’s Hearings on Hearings Today?

June 20, 2012, 9:26 am | Posted by

Zuhdi Jasser

Today, Rep. Peter King is holding yet another round of his infamous hearings on “Muslim radicalization,” this time on the American Muslim response to his earlier hearings.

The problem, as usual, is that the central premise of King’s hearings remains untrue: Muslim Americans are neither particularly radicalized, nor are they uncooperative with law enforcement. Expert witnesses have even made a point of telling King this at the hearings themselves.

Faced with this problem, King has taken to ignoring the experts in favor of witnesses who will tell him what he already wants to hear, and this most recent round is no different. Testifying today are three people whose primary qualifications appear to be their willingness to confirm King’s conspiracy theories and falsely implicate their fellow Muslim Americans as contributing to radicalism.

Here’s a quick background on the three witnesses:

Zuhdi Jasser

Jasser, who testified at a previous round of King’s hearings, is a physician and former Navy medical officer who has become the go-to spokesman of anti-Muslim extremists looking for Muslim allies to baptize their views. Media Matters has compiled information on Jasser here, and he was prominently featured in the Center for American Progress’s Fear Inc. report as one of the Muslim “validators” for Islamaphobic activists.

Jasser most recently came under scrutiny for serving as the narrator for the documentary The Third Jihad, an anti-Islamic movie produced by the right-wing Clarion Fund (whose board Jasser also sits on). The film prompted a major scandal earlier this year after NYPD commissioner Ray Kelly admitted to voluntarily appearing in it and showing it in training sessions for officers.

Asra Nomani

Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal writer most notable for her support of the misleading and dangerous tactic of profiling people who appear to be Muslims at airports, her defense of NYPD’s illegal spying and religious profiling program, and, of course, her support for King’s original hearings.

Writing in The Guardian today, Nomani previews her testimony at today’s hearing, reiterating these extreme views and attacking critics of the hearings.

Qanta Ahmed

A British doctor who grew up in London, Ahmed wrote mostly about international issues and her experience practicing medicine in Saudi Arabia before penning two op-eds in support of King’s initial hearings and another one the following year defending NYPD.

Ahmed’s invitation to speak appears to be the result of a chance meeting with King at her hospital. She also seems to have connected with the Clarion Fund, which published an interview with her earlier this month in which she attacks Muslim-American organizations despite admitting she has no contact with them.

Faiza Patel

The minority witness is an actual expert on human rights and the legal issues related to counterterrorism, serving as Co-Director of the Liberty and National Security Program at the Brennan Center. She has specifically written about King’s previous hearings and the deficiencies of his and his witnesses arguments.

Photo source: Alex Wong/Getty Images North America

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Ohio Faith Leaders to State Legislature: Protect Fair Election Laws

May 10, 2012, 10:52 am | Posted by

On Tuesday, the Ohio House of Representatives voted to repeal controversial voting restriction laws that were “supposed to go before voters on Nov. 6 — the first known case in Ohio history in which legislators repealed a bill up for referendum.”

While any opportunity to reinstate voting rights should come a welcome development, the repeal left in place rules that end in-person voting the weekend before Election Day and prevents Ohioans from acting on their referendum rights.

We Believe Ohio—a group of faith leaders in the Buckeye State—are standing up against these Republican-passed limits to early voting.

A member of the group, Rev. Timothy Ahrens of the First Congregational Church in Columbus, said people of faith have moral obligation to defend voting rights

 There seems to be a crisis in this state when lawmakers need to play games and pull tricks instead of restoring the opportunity for voting for all Ohioans. It’s a moral issue that we have as a sacred trust in this American democracy an opportunity and a chance to vote. There is a need for early voting and the question before us today is: is early voting going to be Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Election Day? [Editors’ Note: More than 93,000 Ohioans voted during that three-day period in 2008]

As numerous state legislatures work to restrict the voting rights of historically disenfranchised groups of people, people of faith and voters around the country will need to keep standing up for every individual’s right to vote and reject discrimination at the polls.

Christopher Hale contributed to this post.

Photo Credit: Kristin_a. Flickr

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Jimmy Carter: Follow Christ’s Teaching, End The Death Penalty

May 1, 2012, 9:33 am | Posted by

As state level bans of the death penalty gain steam across the United States, an old advocate has re-emerged as a prominent voice against capital punishment: Jimmy Carter.

Last Friday, the former President again called for an end to the death penalty in an editorial for the Associated Baptist Press.

Deploring the United States’ “fascination with the death penalty,” Carter listed out what he called “the overwhelming ethical, financial, and religious reasons to abolish the death penalty.” Carter noted that the death penalty has been unsuccessful in deterring violent crime, decimated states’ budgets and been applied unjustly across racial lines.

Chief among Carter’s concerns, however, is how the death penalty violates the teachings of Jesus Christ. He wrote:

Some devout Christians are among the most fervent advocates of the death penalty, contradicting Jesus Christ and misinterpreting Holy Scriptures and numerous examples of mercy. We remember God’s forgiveness of Cain, who killed Abel, and the adulterer King David, who had Bathsheba’s husband killed. Jesus forgave an adulterous woman sentenced to be stoned to death and explained away the “eye for an eye” scripture.

Sadly, Carter stands in a league of his own. He is the only American President in modern history to advocate for the repeal of the death penalty.

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Catholic Archbishop Speaks Out Against Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law

April 25, 2012, 12:29 pm | Posted by

Archbishop GomezAs the Supreme Court weighs the Department of Justice’s case against Arizona’s discriminatory anti-immigrant law SB 1070, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez has an op-ed in The Washington Post reaffirming the USCCB’s opposition to the law and explaining the moral principles behind their position:

Most disturbing, upholding Arizona’s law would change our American identity as a welcoming nation, which has served us well since our inception. The goals of Arizona-type laws are to discourage immigrants from coming and to encourage those who are here to leave. We must carefully consider whether that is the signal we want to send to the world, given that immigrants and their ancestors—all of us—built this country and will continue to renew it.

Archbishop Gomez’s letter comes on the heels of the USCCB joining the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services and the Presbyterian Church (USA) to submit an amicus curiae brief in the case (over 50 other faith-based groups signed a separate brief as well) and the inclusion of this issue as an example of threats to religious freedom in the bishops’ letter on the subject earlier this month.

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Connecticut Legislature Votes to Repeal Death Penalty

April 12, 2012, 12:35 pm | Posted by

Great news from the Nutmeg State:

After more than nine hours of debate, the Connecticut House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to repeal the state’s death penalty, following a similar vote in the State Senate last week. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, a Democrat, has said he will sign the bill, which would make Connecticut the 17th state — the 5th in five years — to abolish capital punishment for future cases.

Via The New York Times

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