Some Islamic groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations and the Muslim Public Affairs Council have come out strongly against Rep. Pete King’s hearings on homegrown radicalism. But the Ahmadiyya Muslim community is arguing that American Muslims have a responsibility to answer the questions that Rep. King and others have about Islamic extremism.
“We think it’s an issue that needs to be discussed openly. We need to answer the questions Americans are asking and we need to do it repeatedly,” the Ahmadiyya national spokesman Waseed Sayed told me today.
“Wherever they may be asked, we will go, unapologetically, and we will answer the questions.”
Sayed also added that simply complaining about media perceptions of Islam is unhelpful. He called on American Muslims to take responsibility for changing negative views of the religion by actively promoting peace and opposing extremism. “We try to focus on what the Muslims living in America need to do to improve their own situation. We don’t want to focus on us complaining,” he said.
“Certainly there are issues Muslims have to worry about and defend themselves about. But that’s not where the work begins. This is not the time for Muslims to ask what this country can do for us; it’s the time for Muslims to ask what we can do for this great country.”
The Ahmadiyya community has launched a campaign that seeks to combat extremist rhetoric from figures like Anwar Al-Awlaki and highlight the importance of American Muslim patriotism and loyalty to the U.S.
By calling on Muslims to openly address issues of extremism, the group may find itself at odds with other Islamic organizations that have publicly alleged that Rep. King’s hearings will “stoke anti-Muslim sentiment.”
“These hearings will almost certainly increase widespread suspicion and mistrust of the American Muslim community and stoke anti-Muslim sentiment. During 2010, we saw an increase in anti-Muslim hatred in public discourse, as well as hate crimes and violence targeting American Muslims,” more than 50 organizations stated in a press release last week that objected to the focus of the congressional hearings.