Next month, House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King (R-NY) will hold hearings on the domestic threat posed by Muslim Americans. Echoing McCarthyist rhetoric of the 1950s, King recently argued that Muslims aren’t “American” when it comes to war.
This week, King went on the Laura Ingraham Show to discuss his upcoming investigation. The guest host asked King how many American mosques he thought were “infected” by “radical jihad sentiment.” King, who in the past declared that there are “too many mosques in this country” and called Muslims “an enemy living amongst us,” was unabashed in his belief that “over 80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams”:
HOST: Congressman, how widespread do you think this radical jihad sentiment is in US mosques? How many mosques do you think are infected?
KING: The only real testimony we have on it is from Sheikh Kabbani who was a Muslim leader during the Clinton Administration, he testified back in 1999 and 2000 before the State Department that he thought over 80 percent of the mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams. Certainly from what I’ve seen and dealings I’ve had, that number seems accurate.
King’s claim that four of every five American mosques are radical in nature isn’t just ludicrous at face value, it’s factually wrong. The best research on the subject, the Detroit Mosque Study from 2004, found that just “6 percent of Detroit’s mosque-attending population espoused” extreme views, while the “vast majority of American-Muslims” rejected such beliefs. According to a 2000 study of U.S. mosques, over 70 percent of mosque participants “strongly agree” that Muslims should be involved in American institutions and should participate in the political process.
Still, King’s quest to lay collective blame on Muslim Americans has inspired other House Republicans as well. Reps. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Allen West (R-FL) are also calling for hearings on the “creeping threat of Sharia law.” With the three congressmen sitting on separate committees, we could see a triumvirate of investigations in the GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
For his part, King has said he is willing to be called a “bigot” if that’s what it takes to continue his witchhunt into Muslim American communities. Continuing to make outlandish claims like “80 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by radical Imams” will do much to make that “bigot” label stick.