Arun Venugopal is a reporter and the creator of Micropolis, WNYC’s multi-platform series examining race, sexuality, religion, street life and other issues that define New York City. He has been with the station since 2005, and has covered a wide range of stories, including the death of Sean Bell, the controversy over the Park 51 mosque and community center and Occupy Wall Street .
Witnesses at State Homeland Security Hearing Called Anti-Muslim
Thursday, April 07, 2011
A month after Rep. Peter King's congressional hearing on the threat of radicalization among Muslims, a New York state legislator is set to conduct his own related, and controversial hearing. State Senator Gregory Ball of Putnam County will chair the Homeland Security hearing, set to examine terrorism and threats to sensitive sites such as the Indian Point nuclear power plant.
While embracing the stated purpose of the hearing — "To consider opportunities to improved New York State’s Homeland Security Operations and how far we have come since September 11th 2001" — a group of elected officials, Muslim groups and civil libertarians gathered to question Ball's motives.
"Fifteen minutes on the dangers posed to New Yorkers by the Indian Point power plant but 30 minutes on the dangers posed by sharia law," said Udi Ofer, of the New York Civil Liberties Union. "That says it all about the true intents behind Senator Greg Ball's hearing."
Ball's office did not return calls, but on his website, he wrote, "Nearly 10 years after 9-11, in my view, we still are not safe," adding that his hearing would include testimony from the head of the Entergy corporation, which runs Indian Point, as well as the head of security at the MTA.
But it's the presence of two other witnesses that drew fire from critics, namely Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney. Darwish is the author of "Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Global Islamic Law," and has called President Barack Obama a "political Muslim." Gaffney has claimed, without evidence, that the Obama administration has been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Neither Gaffney nor Darwish could be reached for comment.
"What should be a very legitimate and serious discussion around homeland security and our preparedness level turns into an anti-immigrant circus," said Senator Adriano Espaillat.