PAKPAC Welcomes Hearings on American Muslims
Assistant Senate Majority Leader Dick Durbin (D-IL) chaired the first-ever Congressional hearing on “Protecting the Civil Rights of American Muslims” in the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights, where he highlighted the “First Freedom” - the freedom of religion - and the rights the Constitution affords all Americans.
“PAKPAC thanks Senator Durbin (D-IL) for scheduling today’s hearing. We also thank Ranking Member Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and other members of the committee who participated in the hearings in a bi-partisan spirit to protect basic principles of American Constitution and American Values,” says a PAKPAC announcement. It adds:
Senator Durbin (D-IL) recounted a number of cases of harsh language directed against Muslims including a leading member of Congress who bluntly said, “There are too many mosques in this country;” a former House Speaker falsely claimed, “America is experiencing an Islamist cultural-political offensive designed to undermine and destroy our civilization;” a prominent religious leader said Islam is “wicked” and “evil;” and the publisher of a prominent magazine said, “Muslim life is cheap, most notably to Muslims.” Senator Durbin reiterated, “It is our government’s responsibility to prevent and prosecute these kinds of discrimination ... and make it clear that defending the civil rights of our Muslim neighbors is as important as [defending the rights of] our Christian, Jewish, and non-religious neighbors. Those of us in public life have a responsibility to choose our words carefully; we must condemn anti-Muslim bigotry.”
Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC), on speaking of respect for one another stated, “What does it mean to practice religion in America? It means I have to stand up for your right to practice your religion and you will stand up for mine. It is ok to argue, but there are lines you cannot cross.” Sen. Graham emphasized the need of protecting the civil rights of Muslim Americans and uniting with them, rather than marginalizing them, in the struggle against radical extremism. “There are some real issues to be dealt with [today]. Can we stand up for the rights of Muslim Americans? Yes, we must; if any one group suffers, we all suffer. The biggest victim of radical Islam is fellow Muslims; we are all in this together. Muslims who are trying to separate themselves from radical Islam need our help.”
In his opening remarks Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) remarked, “If you protect diversity, you protect democracy. We must never forget this [history of religious persecution and violence of all religions] when we consider religious freedom in America; ALL Americans deserve religious freedoms provided in the constitution. This freedom extends beyond the first amendment; it continues on to ensure due process and protections. American Muslims must be protected like all Americans.”