A Republican congressman claimed on the House floor on Tuesday that members of Muslim communities in the United States have not condemned acts of Islamic extremist terrorism against the U.S. and therefore are complicit in those and any future attacks.
Noting that it has been two months since the Boston Marathon bombing, Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) said the supposed silence from Muslim leaders on terrorism is “deafening,” adding that it’s “sad, but perhaps most importantly it’s dangerous.” Listing off a number terrorist acts committed by Islamic extremists, including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and several more recent failed plots, Pompeo blamed the leaders of the Islamic community for not doing more to prevent these actions, hinting that they could be complicit in the deaths they’ve caused. “Instead of responding, silence has made these Islamic leaders across America potentially complicit in these acts, and more importantly still, in those that may well follow,” Pompeo accused.
“I know not all Muslims support these actions,” Pompeo said, but lamented that “the silence in the face of extremism coming from the best funded Islamic advocacy organizations and many mosques across America is deafening.”
But Muslim leaders in the U.S. have been anything but silent in the face of extremism. Immediately after the identity of the alleged Boston bombers was revealed, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) issued a statement in response condemning terrorism. “As Americans, we are a united force against any form of tyranny, whether it be in the form of terrorism or otherwise,” CAIR executive director Basim Elkarra said. “Terrorism has no allegiance to faith or ethnicity, and we have been witness to that over the past few years. What happened in Boston and Watertown last week does not reflect on anyone except for those who carried it out. It is not a reflection of ethnic identity, religion, or national affiliation.”
Likewise, Muslim communities around the country have made clear their disdain for terrorism. In the aftermath of Boston, the All Dulles Area Muslim Society began organizing a workshop to prevent further Muslim youths from being radicalized on the Internet. Similarly, the Muslim Public Affairs Council partnered with the New America Foundation to work on the issue of tackling extremism and promoting moderate Islam in an age of digital radicalization. In fact, in the years since 9/11, Muslim-American leaders have condemned terrorism — from the failed Christmas Day bombing of a plane landing in Detroit to the 2005 London bombings to the very idea of terrorism — unequivocally. Pompeo’s questioning their stance against terror shows a deafness that affected his colleague Rep. Peter King (R-NY) and indeed many Americans over the last decade.
Pompeo also misses that Muslim communities have actually been instrumental in thwarting more than a dozen terrorist attacks since 2001. Across the border, in Canada, the Toronto Muslim community was key in preventing an attack on a joint U.S.-Canadian railway line. In the most recent Pew Research Center survey of the U.S. Muslim community, taken in 2011, found that 64 percent of U.S. Muslims felt there was little or no support for extremism in their communities. Instead, Muslims found themselves targets of increased violence and harassment after Boston.
Update: See “Muslim groups respond to false claims by Congressman Pompeo”, Huffington Post, 13 June 2013