March 3, 2011; Source: Christian Science Monitor | At the hearings on Islamic radicalization last week, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) explicitly singled out one well known nonprofit for criticism: the Council on American-Islamic Relations. CAIR is the largest Muslim civil rights organization in the nation with 33 chapters in the United States and Canada, established in 1994 with a mission to "enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."

King pointedly chose not to invite CAIR representatives to testify at his hearings, explaining that CAIR has been "discredited" because it "was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the terrorist financing case involving the Holy Land Foundation." One of the convicted Holy Land Foundation people was a member of the Texas chapter of CAIR.

Some critics such as Boston College political scientist Peter Skerry and American Enterprise Institute researcher Gary Schmitt link CAIR with the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. CAIR, which submitted written testimony to King's hearing regardless of the official snub, says it has repeatedly condemned terrorism and cooperated with law enforcement agencies.

King did invite Zuhdi Jasser of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy to testify however, and promoted AIFD as the "ideal" alternative CAIR because it is "the most compatible with American values."  The issues raised by the King hearings are complex. We need to hear what NPQ readers think of what King is doing and whether this will be useful or counterproductive.—Rick Cohen