Islam Hearings Address 'Elephant in the Room'

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The radicalization of Muslims in America was the controversial topic of a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday.

The chairman of the hearings, Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., said it was time to address the elephant in the room. Four hours of emotion filled testimony followed.

Melvin Bledsoe recounted before the committee members how al Qaeda lured his son Carlos away from his family and into a radical lifestyle that led him to murder an army recruiter in Arkansas.

Our panel of experts -- including CBN News Washington Correspondents John Jessup and Jennifer Wishon, CBN Terror Analysts Erick Stakelbeck, and CBN Senior Reporters Dale Hurd and George Thomas -- talked more about the hearings and the extent of U.S. Muslim radicalization on the CBN News' Midday News, March 11.

Topics included:

"This could have been prevented," said Bledsoe said. "I would like to see something change that no other family in this great country of ours has to go through what our family is facing today. God help us."

Abdirizak Bihi, director of the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, testified that some Muslim leaders intimidate those who want to report radical behavior to American authorities.

"If you go to FBI or the police they don't care about you, because you are a Muslim," Bihi said. "They will send you to Guantanamo. Very strong message."

Democrats on the committee had questioned the legitimacy of the hearings, calling them "tainted."

"Because it has already been classified as an effort to demonize and to castigate a whole broad base of human beings," said Rep. Sheila Jackson-Lee, D-Texas. "I cannot stand for that."

"To back down would be a craven surrender to political correctness and an abdication of what I believe to be the main responsibility of this committee -- to protect America from a terrorist attack," King said.

Many Muslim leaders said the hearings unfairly target Islam and could lead to fear mongering. However, one leader who testified disagreed. He said American Muslims must address the radical ideology that can lead to terrorism.

"We've continued to play defense and until we have an ideological offense into the Muslim community domestically and globally to teach liberty to teach separation of mosque and state," said Dr. Zudhi Jasser, president and founder of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy. "You are not going to solve this problem."

Jasser said he's starting a "counter jihad" to fight principles of Islamic law that contradict American government and society and end up radicalizing Muslims.

King says he will hold a hearing on Muslim extremism in American prisons later this year.

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Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.