Jewish Dems blast GOP for singling out Muslims

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The National Jewish Democratic Council blasted what it said was a Republican “obsession” with Muslims.

An NJDC statement termed as “utterly unnecessary” a second hearing convened Wednesday by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Homeland Security Commitee, on Muslim radicalization.

“Taken together with examples such as Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s and Herman Cain’s deeply disturbing comments in Monday night’s debate, these hearings are a manifestation of an upsetting GOP obsession with American Muslims,” the statement said.

In the GOP presidential debate Monday, Gingrich defended proposed loyalty tests for Muslims by likening them to past loyalty tests aimed at ferreting out communists and Nazis. Cain attempted to explain past comments in which he said he would not be comfortable with including a Muslim in his Cabinet.

“Once again, King has singled out the adherents of the Muslim faith, calling into question the loyalty of an entire community,” NJDC said. “All Americans who treasure the freedom of religion should be concerned with the growing suspicion of Muslim Americans by the Republican Party, which seems to be a requirement among its 2012 contenders.”

Republicans pointed out that King’s hearing Wednesday focused specifically on Muslim radicalization among prisoners, a topic that congressional Democrats have addressed in the past.

Right fractures over Islam

At the 38th annual conservative gathering, there was no shortage of accusations of Islamist sympathies, Muslim Brotherhood infiltration and charges of fear-mongering. Republican presidential hopefuls, including Newt Gingrich and John Thune, also drew applause with suggestions that the Obama administration has taken a politically correct blind eye to the connection between radical Islam and terrorism.

Freshman Rep. Allen West also drew thunderous applause in his keynote speech about the threat to America posed by Islam and other security threats. And as Republican candidates define their national security stands in the 2012 elections, conservative discomfort with Islam in America will be a feature of the debate.

CPAC organizers held an official panel on the threat of sharia law, with several other affiliated, but unofficial, events on inclusion, religious liberty and the so-called ground zero mosque controversy, featuring the controversial blogger Pam Geller and Jihad

Conservative republican Muslim condemns Fox Report on congressional staffers as “Anti-Muslim Bigotry”

Suhail Khan, a conservative Republican who served as a political appointee in the Bush administration and currently serves on the American Conservative Union board, calls the Fox News report asserting that the Congressional Muslim Staff Association poses a national security threat “anti-Muslim bigotry.”

Khan, who currently works as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Global Engagement, an evangelical Christian religious freedom organization, worked as a Hill staffer in the 1990s, serving on the staff of Tom Campbell, a California Republican. In the mid-1990s, he said, he approached then-Speaker Newt Gingrich about obtaining a room for the small number of Muslim staffers to hold Friday prayers. Gingrinch granted that request, and the tradition continued through the tenures of Speakers Dennis Hastert, also a Republican, and Nancy Pelosi.
Over the years, the number of people attending grew, eventually leading to the creation of the CMSA around 2007, when Khan has already left Hill service and was working in the Bush administration. Like other Congressional staffer organizations, the CMSA does not receive any funding or support from the government; rather the status permits it to use space and provides a structure for leadership. Other groups include Christian and Jewish organizations that host prayer and study sessions. The CMSA, Khan said, engages in two main activities: hosting briefings on a variety of issues; and hosting a Congressional iftar each year that is widely attended, including by elected officials. Friday prayers are held by individual staffers, some of whom are also CMSA members, under the auspices of the House chaplain; they are not an official function of the CMSA.

Regarding the Fox piece, Khan said, “since 9/11 there have been a couple of individuals that have been spending a lot of money to cull through tapes and videos of conferences and TV programs and the Internet to look for information that is critical of Muslims and Muslim-Americans getting involved in public policy. They compile that into a guilt-by-association Powerpoint and then shop it to reporters.” These individuals include, said Khan, Frank Gaffney, who issues baseless warnings to members of Congress about “creeping shari’ah;” Paul Sperry, co-author of the book Muslim Mafia, which claimed that the Council on American Islamic Relations had infiltrated Capitol Hill by placing interns as spies; Kenneth Timmerman, a conservative writer and activist; Pamela Geller, the blogger who spurred much of the anti-Park51 fervor; and Robert Spencer, who runs the website Jihad Watch; and Steve Emerson, whose profits from a cottage industry of peddling fear of Islam were exposed last month by the Tennessean’s religion reporter Bob Smietana.

CBSNews.com: Conservative media pushing fears about Sharia law in America

In an October 13 article, CBSNews.com political reporter Brian Montopoli
notes that the “notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been
percolating in the conservative media for a while.” Montopoli cites
examples from Fox News’ Sean Hannity, Brian Kilmeade, and Newt Gingrich,
among others. He later reports that “fears of an outbreak of Sharia law
seem overblown at best. Even if there is somehow a serious push for the
imposition of Sharia law – or any other religious law – it would quickly
run up against the first amendment to the Constitution.”

From the CBSNews.com article:

The notion that Sharia law is coming to America has been percolating in
the conservative media for a while. Fox News’ Sean Hannity suggested the
arrest of the Christian missionaries in Dearborn reflected the
possibility that “Sharia law is taking over in Dearborn,” as did Fox
News’ Brian Kilmeade, who interviewed one of the men who was arrested.

At the Values Voters summit in September, Newt Gingrich said – to a
standing ovation – that “[w]e should have a federal law that says Sharia
law cannot be recognized by any court in the United States.” He has also
warned that jihadists are trying “to replace Western civilization with a
radical imposition of Sharia.”