CNN Hypes Muslims' 'Islamophobia' Worries Over Rep. King's Hearings

Dan Gilgoff played up the Islamic community's concerns over upcoming congressional hearings on "the radicalization of American Muslims" in a Friday article on CNN.com. Gilgoff quoted Muslims 12 times in his article, versus only 3 times for Rep. Peter King, who will be convening the hearings, and omitted mentioning actual terrorist incidents from recent years that involved native-born or naturalized Muslims.

The co-editor for CNN's "Belief Blog" led his article, "Muslims anxious, active ahead of radicalization hearings," by highlighting the efforts of American University Professor Akbar Ahmed, who stated, "There is a generalized sense of Islamophobia floating around, and the hearings are not doing anything to assuage Muslim fears." Of course, this line helps revisit the network's charge from last summer that Islamophobia is now "mainstream in America" (his colleague Don Lemon did this on Monday with a segment about a new film hoping to "clear up some of this ignorance" about Islam).

Gilgoff used the "Islamophobia" term himself four paragraphs later:

...King's hearings have also galvanized American Muslims, perhaps as never before, in an attempt to counter what they call a rising tide of Islamophobia, to lobby Washington about their concerns and to help shape the national narrative about their community.

The efforts come a little more than six months after many Muslims were blindsided by a wave of national opposition to a proposed Islamic cultural center near New York’s ground zero last summer.

The CNN writer spent the next several paragraphs lining up quote after quote from those who are spearheading these efforts:

"There was this sense that after last summer's events of needing to be more proactive in stemming this activity that stokes anti-Muslim hate," says Farhana Khera, executive director of Muslim Advocates, a national legal advocacy group.

"That's why, as soon as we heard Rep. King say he planned to hold these hearings, we started coming forward to express our concerns," Khera says....

The Council on American-Islamic Relations,  a leading Muslim advocacy group, used its annual lobbying day last month to visit 90 congressional offices to "start offering facts about American Muslims and their role in helping prevent attacks on our nation," ahead of King's hearings, says Corey Saylor, the group's national legislative director....

The hearings are also spurring mosques around the country to get more political.

"Muslim-Americans make vital contributions every day," said Hadi Nael, the director of the Islamic Center of Temecula Valley in California, whose congregation is calling and writing Congress to voice opposition to the King hearings.

"They love this country just as every American does and should not be placed under suspicion of terrorism because of their religious beliefs or ethnic background," he said. "King's hearings would do just that."

Gilgoff finally quoted from Rep. King himself 19 paragraphs in to his article, but surrounded the quotes with more quotes from Muslim accusers:

Many Muslim activists say that recent remarks from King, including his support for a theory that 80% of American mosques are controlled by radical imams, are evidence that he intends to broadly target the American Muslim community with his hearings, rather than focus on Islamic radicals.

"Let's not fall into the same ugly patterns that were prevalent in earlier years in America, when Jews were suspected of aiding communism and Catholics were suspected of supporting fascism," says Eboo Patel, a leading Muslim activist, summing up his opposition to the hearings. "Let's not repeat that history by blaming all Muslims for the extremist actions of a range of people in this country."

..."Al Qaeda is actively attempting to recruit individuals living within the Muslim American community to commit acts of terror," King wrote in a letter last month to Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi, the ranking member on the Homeland Security Committee, who'd suggested that King broaden the hearings' scope.

"Pursuant to our mandate, the Committee will continue to examine the threat of Islamic radicalization, and I will not allow political correctness to obscure a real and dangerous threat to the safety and security of the citizens of the United States," King's letter continued.

King has declined recent interview requests to discuss the hearings, including those from CNN, and has yet to release a full witness list for next week's hearing, exacerbating Muslim anxiety.

The sole witness whose name King has released is Zuhdi Jasser, an Arizona doctor who is Muslim but who has criticized his religion.

King has also invited U.S. Rep Keith Ellison, D-Minnesota - the first Muslim elected to Congress - to testify. "We have interviewed dozens of prospective witnesses," King said in a statement to CNN.


Near the end of his article, the CNN editor took the time to note that "according to the Department of Justice, there were 107 anti-Muslim hate-crime incidents in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available, up from 28 such incidents in 2000." But he didn't mention any of the actual attempted terror attacks or actual attacks which were perpetuated by radicalized American Muslims: most prominently, the Food Hood shootings; the attempted car bombing in Times Square in May 2010; the murder of an army recruiter in June 2009; and the terror plot against Fort Dix in 2007, to name a few.

How can a journalist report about hearings about the radicalization of American Muslims without mentioning Muslims who were actually radicalized to the point of plotting against their fellow citizens?

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center