Muslim Americans are fighting back against Rep. Steve King’s (R-IA) suggestion on Thursday that the U.S. government should spy on mosques to stop the recruitment of fighters into the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
“The radical Islamists have 1.3 or more billion Muslims to work with,” the Iowa congressman said on The Steve Deace Show. “Now they aren’t all supporters… but that is a huge population to draw from,” he continued, suggesting that recruiters are “certainly in the United States,” particularly in mosques in Virginia and Minneapolis. “So they have a network that they flow in. And it isn’t that all Muslims are a supporter of ISIS but the network that flows through the mosques is certainly the communications centers. We ought to be looking at this dot to dot. And we ought to have people sitting in those mosques watching to see what’s going on,” he explained.
The United States government estimates that more than 100 Americans are already fighting in Syria’s civil war and dozen of whom are part of ISIS.
But American Muslims view ISIS as an abomination to Islam and the group itself has little regard for the fundamental tenets of Islam, blowing up copies of the Qur’an, killing fellow Muslims, and slaughtering innocent youth and using rape and sexual slavery as a weapon.
Virtually every single American Muslim organization has publicly disavowed both the ideology and the practices of ISIS and just a day before King’s remarks dozens of Muslim American clerics and community leaders distanced their religion from the beliefs of the terrorist extremists. “ISIS and al Qaeda represent a warped religious ideology,” Faizal Khan, imam of the Islamic Society of America mosque in Silver Spring, said during a press conference with Muslim-American leaders from Indonesia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Sudan and Trinidad. “Either we reject this violence in the clearest possible terms, or we allow them to become the face of Islam and the world’s perception of us for years to come.”
On Thursday, Muslims in Virginia responded directly to King’s comments. “It’s really reprehensible, red meat rhetoric being thrown out there,” Mahdi Bray of the American Muslim Alliance told the local NBC affiliate in Washington D.C. “No. we don’t need spies in mosques. I think we went through that with Hoover, with Dr. Martin Luther King and that didn’t work either, he saw a communist behind every sheet. So I don’t think there’s a need for that and actually — and, again, this goes back to my original characterization of this being un-American.”
Following the terrorist attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, the FBI routinely spied on Muslims in mosques. The New York Police Department recently disbanded a unit responsible for infiltrating and eavesdropping on New York’s Muslim communities and in San Francisco, the the FBI in San Francisco used a public relations program “to collect information on the religious views and practices of Muslims in Northern California and then shared the intelligence with other government agencies.”