On Sunday, City Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) was a Muslim.
At least that was the message behind an event called “I Am a Muslim, Too” that he hosted in Jackson Heights that rainy morning: that he stands with Muslims in opposing the anti-Muslim invective being tossed around by politicians like U.S. Rep. Peter King (R-Massapequa Park).
The issue of what Dromm calls “Muslim-baiting,” where elected officials use anti-Muslim political sentiment for political gain, is coming to a head Thursday, Dromm said, when King, chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, plans to host the first in a series of hearings on the “radicalization” of American Muslims.
Entitled “The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response,” the hearings are aimed at investigating the influence radicalization is having on the American Muslim community. A spokesman for King did not respond to a request for comment.
Representatives of several groups that advocate for and protect the rights of South Asian and Muslim immigrants, including Jackson Heights-based Desis Rising Up & Moving,? South Asian Youth Action in Elmhurst and Chhaya, CDC in Jackson Heights joined with Dromm Sunday in front of his Council office at 37-32 75th St. to denounce King’s planned inquiries. The event took place in Queens, which is home to a sizable Muslim community, in advance of a larger campaign by the same name that afternoon in Times Square.
Dromm said he sees the hearings as an religiously intolerant witch hunt that should concern all Americans.
“He’s singling out one group. If he had a hearing on radicalization of all populations, it would be a different story, but he’s feeding into a wrong stereotype of the Muslim community. He’s just totally wrong to do this and he should know better,” Dromm said Tuesday. “This is an un-American activity for Peter King to be involved in. It reminds me of the McCarthy hearings and it violates the basic principle that this country was founded on, which is freedom of religion.”
“Islamophobia and racism does not make us safer,” Monami Maulik, executive director of DRUM, said. “Peter King’s hearings targeting Muslims are his latest attempt to divide us and stoke fears for political ends. Just as masses of people stood up for human rights after his passage of the anti-immigrant Sensenbrenner bill in 2005, so too do conscious people stand now to end these witch hunts.”