Friday, March 11, 2011


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Dingell Warns King Not To Be Like McCarthy
Says American Muslims should not be singled out in his investigation of extremism

Washington, D.C. – Today, Dean of the U.S. House of Representatives, John D. Dingell (D-MI15) testified at the Homeland Security hearing entitled, “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and That Community's Response.”  Below are his prepared remarks and a link to a video of his testimony.

 “Chairman King and Ranking Member Thompson, thank you for having me at this hearing focusing on the so-called radicalization of the Muslim community and the community’s response.  I am pleased to have the opportunity to talk to you about the Muslim American community I know and represent, a community that demagogues continue to mischaracterize and misrepresent to the detriment of all of us.

“I am the U.S. Representative for Michigan’s 15th Congressional District. I have spent a lifetime working for the betterment of the people of my district and this great Nation that I love. My constituency is diverse and makes up a variety of ethnic and religious groups, including one of the largest Arab and Muslim American populations in the Nation. Most of these individuals live in Dearborn, Michigan, a fine city located on the edge of Detroit.

“America is great because of the freedoms enshrined in our constitution and because of its diversity.  We are a Nation of immigrants from all walks of life who have come together under the motto of the Great Seal, E pluribus unum. “Out of many, one.” 

“The hearing today is focusing on a religious community that I do not recognize. Muslims who first emigrated to Michigan over a century ago--be they of Lebanese, Yemeni, Palestinian, Iraqi, or Egyptian descent--like other immigrant groups, came to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their children. These immigrant groups, like many others, assimilated into the fabric of American society. They are our friends, neighbors, family, teachers, doctors, lawyers, public employees, business partners, waiters, and store clerks.  They are overwhelmingly loyal and patriotic Americans.

“Muslim Americans work at institutions like ACCESS, an organization providing employment, training, and social, community and mental health services throughout Southeast Michigan. Muslim Americans are our elected officials like State Representative Rashida Talib. They are our first responders, like Ron Amen, who served for over 30 years in the Wayne County Sheriff Department.  And, like other Americans, Muslims work at organizations like the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, standing up for the civil rights of their fellow Americans. They participate in the political process, take their kids to the zoo, and do community service projects on the weekends.

“They also join the military to defend our country and some, like Kareem Rashad Sultan Khan, die fighting for our country. 

“Importantly, unlike the allegations we have heard from the Chairman, we know the Muslim American community works with law enforcement officials on the local, state, and national level to fight extremism.  Just yesterday, Southeast Michigan’s Muslim and Arab American community leaders and federal law enforcement held a “BRIDGES” meeting, part of monthly meetings this community has held since the 9/11 attacks.  BRIDGES, which stands for Building Respect In Diverse Groups to Enhance Sensitivity, is a channel for constructive cooperation and coordination between representatives of the Arab and Muslim American communities and law enforcement agencies.  This type of dialogue is happening in Michigan and as the Triangle Center report on “Muslim-American Terrorism since 9/11” finds, cooperation is taking place throughout our country.  According to the study, “tips from the Muslim American community provided the source of information that led to a terrorist plot being thwarted in 48 of 120 cases involving Muslim Americans.”

“Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, our Nation was set on two divergent courses: On the one hand, Americans of all faiths and ethnicities united. American Christians, Muslims, and Jews condemned the cowardly acts of terrorism, stood up for our values and our cherished civil liberties, and provided outpourings of help to the victims. I partnered with the FBI to help recruit fluent Arabic speakers from the Southeast Michigan community into the fight against global terrorism.  Director Robert Mueller, with whom I was working closely on this matter, indicated in a letter that the response from the community was larger than anticipated.  Our President gave a speech in which he said that the United States was not at war with our many Muslim or Arab friends, but against a radical network of terror and every government that supports it.

“Yet, at the same time, an ugly side of America showed itself.  In my Congressional District, then the 16th District, by September 18, 2001, there were more than 200 reported cases of abuse and violence directed against Arab and Muslim Americans. Mr. Mueller’s letter regarding Arab language recruitment responses also expressed a grave concern over the uptick in violence against individuals of Arab descent and asked for my help in encouraging the community to report hate crimes against people and property. 

“I believe this hearing has a potential to create a continuation of the fear and hatred that came after 9/11. This hearing must not be permitted to recall the evils of McCarthyism and the divisiveness and ill-will it created amongst our people.  Moreover, I wish to make unequivocally clear for the record: Islam is not a religion of division and intolerance, but a religion that values diversity and understanding. Acts of violence committed in the name of Islam are particularly offensive to the Muslim community because the perpetrators recklessly attempt to use their faith as an excuse for crimes.

“Even as I sit here, I have enormous respect and affection for you and my colleagues on this committee.  I beg you, for the sake of all of us, to guide this hearing wisely and well, and to see to it the hearing is conducted with the respect for this institution and the principles we as Americans hold dear.  If this hearing is conducted carefully, fairly, and with respect for all, especially including our Arab and Muslim Americans, good will come from it. I know and I hope that demagoguery and irresponsibility have no place in this hearing.  The good names of the Congress, members of the Committee, the witnesses, and millions of Americans – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – are in your hands. I beg you to treat them with the care, decency, and responsibility that I have always associated with you and with the ideals and best practices of the institution of which you and I have the honor to be a part.

“If you look about, you will find that violent terrorist acts are committed by all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds.  Extremism and terrorism at home and imported from abroad are grave threats to our Nation.  The sources of terrorist ideology and their organization, purpose, and danger must be examined. Our response is in your hands. For the good of all of us, it must be used carefully, vigorously, wisely, and well.”

To view Congressman Dingell’s testimony, go to the video link,

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