Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Co-Chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, spoke from the floor of the Senate Tuesday to condemn hearings held late last week in the House of Representatives called the ” The Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community’s Response.”
“Congressional hearings are supposed to serve an important role of oversight, investigation or education, among other purposes, however, this particular hearing — billed as the first of a series – served only to fan flames of fear and division. …
“I am the Senate chair of the U.S. Helsinki Commission. In that capacity, I have raised human rights issues in other countries such as in France when, in the name of national security, the parliament banned burqas and wearing of other religious articles or when the Swiss restricted the building of mosques and minarets. These policies restricted not only the religious practice of Muslims, but also Christians, Jews, and others who would seek to wear religious symbols and practice their religion as they see fit.
“I have also raised human rights issues in the U.S. when we were out of compliance with our Helsinki commitment. I find it necessary to speak out against the Congressional hearing chaired by Congressman Peter King. Rather than constructively using the power of Congress to explore how we as a nation can use all of the tools at our disposal to prevent future terrorist attacks and defeat those individuals and groups who would want to do us harm, this spectacle crossed the line and chipped away at the religious freedoms and civil liberties we hold so dearly.
“Radicalization may be the appropriate subject of a Congressional hearing but not when it is limited to one religion. When that is done, it sends the wrong message to the public and casts a religion with unfounded suspicions. Congressman King’s hearing is part of a disturbing trend to demonize Muslims taking place in our country and abroad. Instead we need to engage the Muslim community in the United States. A cookie-cutter approach to profile what a terrorist looks like will not work.”