American Islamic Congress' Statement on Today's Congressional Hearings Examining Radicalization in Muslim-American Communities

Mar 10, 2011, 11:55 ET from American Islamic Congress

WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The American Islamic Congress released the following statement by its Executive Director, Zainab Al-Suwaij, on today's Congressional hearings:

"Keeping America safe requires effective cooperation between responsible Muslim-American leaders and law enforcement agencies. Effective results require better efforts by both sides in the relationship.

"There is an undeniable problem of radicalization affecting parts of the Muslim community nationally and globally – and Muslims themselves are often the first victims of such extremism. We need to be honest and vigilant about this serious problem, and we have an obligation to keep our country safe and secure. Bloodshed has resulted when both community leaders and government officials fail to take extremism seriously – for example, the Fort Hood shootings.

"At the same time, government attitudes are often shaped by stereotypes about who Muslim-Americans are and often fail to recognize how diverse Muslim communities are in the United States, which has been a melting pot for Muslims from around the world and from varying traditions.

"Too often, though, Muslims are viewed by government officials as monolithic stereotypes – in political attitudes, in religious practices, and even in 'authentic' clothing – that prevent fresh perspectives and stunt a needed healthy debate. Because counter-terrorism is a two-way street, engaging Muslim-Americans mainly through the prism of terrorism risks only deepening alienation, which radicals prey upon.

"Effective Congressional oversight should review both the forces driving radicalization and the ability of government agencies to recognize the diversity of the Muslim-American community. There are no easy answers to this complex reality.

"As one small step towards improving the status quo, later this month in Boston we are hosting a dialogue session between Muslim students and the local Counter-Terrorism Task Force – to help build bridges of understanding via frank discussion and responsible community leadership."

The American Islamic Congress is a civil-rights organization promoting tolerance and the exchange of ideas among Muslims and between other peoples. With the motto "passionate about moderation," the organization leads initiatives around the world and has offices in Washington, Boston, Egypt, and Iraq.  Website is

SOURCE American Islamic Congress