Center For American Progress Report Links Rep. Peter King, Zuhdi Jasser To Islamophobia Movement

August 26, 2011 1:15 pm ET — Brian Powell

Rep. Peter King

The Center for American Progress (CAP) has compiled a comprehensive report on the financial and political origins of the Islamophobia movement that has gathered steam among some social conservatives. The investigation "reveals not a vast right-wing conspiracy behind the rise of Islamophobia in our nation but rather a small, tightly networked group of misinformation experts guiding an effort that reaches millions of Americans." Notably, CAP traced $42 million from seven foundations into the coffers of that network.

It should come as no surprise that Rep. Peter King (R-NY), the force behind the Muslim radicalization hearings in the House Homeland Security Committee this year, and Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, Glenn Beck's go-to authority on Islam, are on the list of individuals whose work is contributing to the brewing climate of fear and hatred of all Muslims that is pervading right-wing culture.

King's record of anti-Islam rhetoric and policies is well-established by now. CAP's report plays back some of the more notable highlights:

King has become known for casting suspicion on entire Muslim American communities. In March, he held congressional hearings titled "Extent of Radicalization in the American Muslim Community and that Community's Response." Rep. King's singular targeting of the Muslim community ignores the facts. For instance, research shows that the majority of terrorist plots in America since 9/11 have been committed by non-Muslims, particularly right-wing extremists and white supremacists. In fact, Rep. King gives away his bias with his own statements. [...]

Aided by false facts, skewed studies, and talking points that came from several of the experts and scholars profiled in Chapter 2 of this report, Rep. King used the hearings to promote debunked myths about Muslim American communities. He relied on Steven Emerson for many of his outlandish claims. Using Emerson as his source, Rep. King insisted that "80 to 85 percent of mosques in this country are controlled by Islamic fundamentalists. I'll stand by that number of 85 percent. This is an enemy living amongst us."

CAP also brings attention to the contributions of Jasser, whom the report describes as a "leading light of the Islamophobia network."

Jasser not only lacks any policy or academic expertise, he also promotes conspiratorial claims that America is infiltrated by radical Muslims. "America is at war with theocratic Muslim despots who seek the imposition of sharia and don't believe in the equality of all before the law, blind to faith. They detest the association of religious freedom with liberty," he wrote in response to criticism of the recent House hearings on supposedly widespread Muslim American radicalism. [...]

Indeed, Jasser has emerged as the Muslim validator for Islamophobia propaganda. Rep. Peter King (R-NY) invited Jasser as a witness for his March 2011 hearings on the radicalization of Muslim communities, based on Jasser's assertion that Muslim leaders do not cooperate enough with law enforcement. This claim has been categorically rejected by actual law enforcement experts and counterterrorism officials.

Read the full report here.

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