Long Island, NY – Muslim leaders Saturday attacked as “bigoted” comments made by Rep. Peter King involving mosques and terrorism, although King shot back that he believes there is a “real problem” involving some mosques on Long Island.
In response to a recent Department of Homeland Security report about right-wing extremism, King told MSNBC Friday the department “has never put out a report talking about look out for mosques. Look out for Islamic terrorists in our country. Look out for the fact that very few Muslims come forward to cooperate with the police. If they sent out a report saying that, there would be hell to pay.”
The New York Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) issued a news release saying King was stereotyping Muslims and that the FBI itself has said most Muslims cooperate with the agency.
“We urge elected representatives to distance themselves from King’s bigoted remarks,” said Faiza N. Ali, CAIR-NY’s community affairs director. “Sweeping generalizations about Muslims and mosques have no serious place in national security discourse.”
King said Saturday, “I stand by everything I said. I consider any attack by CAIR to be a badge of honor.”
The Seaford congressman, who is the ranking Republican member of the Homeland Security Committee, also said that “right now there are a number of mosques under surveillance by law enforcement agencies” on Long Island. He would not state which mosques or which law enforcement agencies, but said the surveillance has been going on for four or five years.
In August 2007 an NYPD report acknowledged surveillance of Muslim communities in a bid to identify risks from extremists.
King said he has been angered by what he called a lack of cooperation by Muslim leaders on Long Island with law enforcement agencies, their alleged refusal to condemn al-Qaida, and conspiracy theories some have floated about the FBI, CIA and Israel being involved in the 9/11 attacks.
Muslim leaders on Long Island called King’s allegations nonsense. Attorney Omar Chaudhry of Huntington said he personally gives diversity training courses at the Nassau County Police Academy, and that the Westbury-based Islamic Center of Long Island has hosted FBI officials at its dinners.
Another center leader, Habeeb Ahmed, called al-Qaida “a bunch of loonies,” and said, “You cannot blame the whole community for the actions of a few. Every community has a few bad apples.”