Religious leaders express concern over Muslim hearings in congress

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U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) attends a news conference promoting the' 9/11 Health and Compensation Act' on September 8, 2010 in New York City.

More than 100 religious leaders in Southern California have signed a letter urging Congress to cancel hearings on the “radicalization” of Muslims in the U.S.

The Islamic Shura Council of Southern California collected signatures from bishops, rabbis and ministers who share Muslims’ concerns that the hearings will demonize Islam.

The letter is addressed to Congressman Peter King, the New York Republican and chairman of the Homeland Security Committee who called the hearings.

"As religious leaders and people of faith, 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."

The letter compares the hearings to McCarthyism, and urges King to cancel them.

“This certainly is going to put Muslims and Arabs – millions of them – as suspects," said Shakeel Syed, who heads the Islamic Shura Council.

Congressman King has said the hearings are necessary because Al Qaeda increasingly seeks to recruit Muslim Americans.

The letter’s signatories include bishops of the local Episcopal and Methodist churches, and 15 rabbis.
Some notable Southern California religious leaders did not sign the letter, including those at the Simon Wiesenthal Center.

“Regrettably, we don’t have a working relationship with the Center," said Syed.

The hearings are set to begin later this month.

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