Pascrell: ‘Long Way to Go’ to Engage U.S. Muslims

July 31, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: A CAIR Press Release

U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-08) yesterday stated his strong disagreement with statements made by Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Peter King (R-NY) who expressed his belief that while American Muslims may not support terrorism they are not doing enough as a community to help law enforcement fight terrorism. This exchange occurred during a vital hearing of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing & Terrorism Risk Assessment on the subject: “Reassessing the Threat: the Future of Al Qaeda and Its Implications for Homeland Security.”

During the hearing one of the expert witnesses, Lawrence Wright, a fellow at the NYU Center on Law and Security, posited his belief that agencies such as the CIA, FBI and local law enforcement need to do more to try and “engage” rather than “penetrate” Muslim American communities.

Rep. Pascrell agreed with this sentiment and stated that, “in my mind, we have a thousand miles to go before we can say we are really engaging the Muslim American community in our homeland security effort.”

Mr. Wright responded by expressing that the only way to truly engage the community was to hire Muslims at all levels of law enforcement and use their unique language and background skills to aid in the fight against terrorism.

“America must view the Muslim community as a great asset to our homeland security effort and take real steps to engage them. We cannot risk becoming like Europe where Muslim citizens have been pushed to the margins of society and are looked at as objects of suspicion,” said Pascrell after the hearing.