In an emotive, hours-long congressional hearing on Thursday, New York Rep. Peter King presided over tearful testimony and bitter back-and-forths from members of Congress, experts and family members as they testified about Muslim radicalization in the U.S. before the Homeland Security Committee.
King, as chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said he called the hearings in an effort to foster greater communication between leaders of the Muslim community and law enforcement officials.
But the hearing Thursday -- which critics likened to the McCarthy-era hearings of the 1950s -- drew the ire of many in Congress, including Rep. Laura Richardson of California, who called it an "abuse of power" and "discriminatory" that set a "dangerous precedent" by focusing exclusively on one community.
Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota, one of two Muslim members of Congress, was brought to tears as he spoke about a Muslim paramedic who died on September 11 trying to help others: "The best defense against extreme ideologies," Ellison said, "is social engagement."
Framed photos of the World Trade Center and Pentagon in flames were shown during the testimony of families who blamed young men in the Islamic community for inspiring acts of terrorism.
Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, the President and Founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy has been critical of Muslim organizations and argued that many Muslim groups are pledging allegiance to the Koran, not the Constitution.
With the Associated Press