The actions of a very few should not be used to define – and in many ways defame – an entire community.
That’s the message Rep. Keith Ellison hopes was conveyed during his recent testimony before a congressional hearing on the “radicalization of the American Muslim community.” Ellison, the first Muslim elected to the United States House of Representatives and first African-American Minnesotan to be elected to the House, believes the hearing was not only uncalled for, it bordered on racist and sectarian.
“Targeting all Muslims for acts of terrorism is like targeting all whites for the deeds of the KKK (Ku Klux Klan),” Ellison said in an exclusive interview for Insight News.
The recent hearings were the brainchild of Rep. Peter King (R-NY), who heads the House’s Homeland Security Committee. According to Ellison, King’s agenda was less about American security and more about political grandstanding. Ellison questioned, “If (the hearing) was about security, why not discuss other homegrown terrorists like those who support bombings of abortion clinics and members of Timothy McVeigh type militia groups or the white supremacist (James Von Brunn) who killed the guard at the (U.S. Holocaust Memorial) Museum?”
According to reports, King was pleased with the hearing and even plans to hold another hearing of the radicalization of American-Muslims in the U.S. prison system.
Ellison not only says the hearing was, at best, misguided, but discounted the true victims of radical Muslim factions. “When we talk about Muslim terror organizations, understand the people most affected are, in fact, Muslim. When we talk about Al-Qaeda, we’re talking about 200 or so people and the majority of its victims are Muslim,” Ellison said, point to killings throughout the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.
Representing a district home to one of the largest Somali-American populations in the nation – most of whom are Muslim – Ellison acknowledged some groups are preying on the community in attempts to serve a radical agenda. “There can be no doubt that groups are recruiting young Muslims and we (he and members of the Somali community) are working to stop these efforts,” said the congressman.
According to Ellison, American-Muslims should be praised for their role in helping to foil prospective terror plots. He said the best way to stem any threat to America is to reach out to the Muslim community. With respect to Somali-Americans, Ellison credits his fellow Minnesotans for doing just that. He says Somalis are being encouraged to work with local law enforcement and, according to Ellison; there are currently at least three Somali-American police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department.
Support for no fly zone
Rep. Ellison also weighed-in on the growing unrest in Libya and the U.S. involvement.
The Minnesota representative said atrocities the Libyan leader, Muammar Gadhafi, is perpetrating cannot be ignored and he has no problem with the U.S. assisting in enforcing a United Nations imposed no-fly zone.
“Without intervention we could be looking at genocide the likes of Rwanda or Bosnia,” said Ellison.
However, Ellison called for President Obama to reach out for congressional approval for any U.S. intervention. “It’s important congress have an oversight role here,” said Ellison.
Conflict began several weeks ago when protestors in the North African nation called for the Libyan ruler to step down. A defiant Gadhafi vowed not to step down, accused outsiders of propping-up the protestors and has since been accused of using his military to torture and kill those opposed to his rule.