Congressman in UK for Radicalization Probe

13 September 2011

Britain, radicalization, Muslims

LONDON – Months after sparking uproar in his home country, a US congressman appears on Tuesday, September 13, before a British Parliament panel to testify on what he calls the radicalization of the Muslim minority.

“I am honored to have been invited” to the parliamentary hearing, Peter King, chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).

The Republican congressman said that the hearing comes “as our vital ally, the United Kingdom, struggles with this same threat within its own borders.”

The inquiry titled, “Roots of Violent Radicalization,” was launched by the House of Commons Select Committee on Home Affairs.

It takes a similar line of inquiry King has taken in US House hearings.

“This is a unique opportunity to create an unbreakable bond between Westminster and Washington and more specifically between the Homeland Security Committee and the Home Affairs Select Committee,” British MP Keith Vaz, who launched the Home Affairs Committee inquiry, said.

After King’s testimony, two Muslims representing the Muslim minority in Britain will testify, including Rashad Ali from Centri center and Maajid Nawaz from Quilliam Foundation.

According to researchers from both the US Congress and the House of Commons, King will be the first member of Congress to testify before a parliamentary hearing.

The Republican congressman sparked uproar last March over holding a probe into what he called “radicalization” of American Muslims, accusing Muslim leaders of not cooperating with law enforcement authorities in fighting terrorism.

The hearing drew fire from US officials and Muslims for stigmatizing the whole Muslim community in the country.

King also organized two further hearings on Muslims in prisons in June and then on claimed Somalia’s Al Shabaab recruitment of Americans in July.

Another House hearing is planned this fall, most likely on Muslim recruitment in the United States military.

Stigmatizing

The planned hearing generated protests from American Muslims and activist groups for stigmatizing the sizable minority.

“If you’re really looking at terrorism, why look at only one group,” said Habeeb Ahmed, board chairman of the Islamic Center of Long Island, the Newsday reported.

“Why make all or most Muslims terrorists? There is no truth to this.”

Facing sharp criticism, King said that his hearings do not target the outstanding majority of Muslims.

“While I have consistently stated the overwhelming majority of Muslim-Americans are outstanding people, the reality is that radicalization within the Muslim-American community by Al-Qaeda and its affiliates is a real threat to the security of our homeland,” King said in a statement.

Britain’s two million Muslims have been in the eye of storm since the 7/7 attacks.

They have repeatedly complained of maltreatment by police for no apparent reason other than being Muslim.

A Financial Times opinion poll has showed recently that Britain is the most suspicious nation about Muslims.

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