CAIRO – A hearing convened in Manhattan on New York City’s vulnerability to possible future attacks turned into a heated spat following provocative statements given by two figures notorious for their anti-Muslim statements.
"This is offending this hearing by having her here," State Sen. Eric Adams (D-Brooklyn) said addressing Nonie Darwish, an Egyptian-born American who is president of a group called Former Muslims United, the New York Times reported on Saturday, April 9.
Titled “Reviewing Our Preparedness: An Examination of New York's Public Protection Ten Years After Sept. 11”, the debate is scheduled to take place at State Senate office building in Lower Manhattan on Friday, April 8.
It was called by state senator, Gregory R. Ball, a Putnam Country Republican and the chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs.
Testifying in the hearing, Darwish answered a question by Sen. Ball on her educated in the Arab world as being “horrendous”.
"This is not our enemy,” Adams said holding a copy of the holy Qur`an.
“You're bringing hate, hate and poison into a diverse country."
Ms. Darwish testimony was followed later by Frank J. Gaffney Jr., a former Defense Department official who has often publicly criticized Islam.
Giving his testimony, Gaffney denounced Shariah law as a threat to the United States.
Ball’s hearing is a local version of a similar hearing called last month by Republican Representative Peter King, who sparked uproar by claiming that US Muslims are being radicalized by Al-Qaeda operatives.
He has also accused Muslim leaders of not cooperating with law enforcement authorities in fighting terrorism, drawing fire from several Muslim and non-Muslim Americans.
King’s hearing was widely condemned as stigmatizing the Muslim minority in the US.
The controversial hearing draw flak from Muslim activists for disregarding the original purpose of the hearing; New York city’s security and focusing on anti-Islam fear mongering.
“At the testimony, people like Nonie Darwish and Frank Gaffney should not be accepted as any type of expertise related to Homeland Security or anything about Islam,” Cyrus McGoldrick, from the Council of American Islamic Relations, told Press TV.
Sen. Ball choice of witnesses was also criticized by Zaed Ramadan from New York Council of Islamic Relations.
“He kind of poisoned the water by bringing in the two, because they are infamous,” Ramadan said.
“All scholars and academics denounce their rhetoric, because it's not based facts, or law enforcement statistics."
By focusing on Muslims, similar to King’s hearing, Ball was denounced as stigmatizing a minority religious group and ignoring other possible threats targeting the American society, like Neo-Nazis and supremacist groups.
“We are also concerned about radicalization. We're concerned about terrorism as well,” Linda Sarsour, the Director of the Arab American Association of New York, said.
“But we want to make sure that it's just not focused on one community.
“There are true threats from Neo Nazis and other hate groups in this country,” she said.
Since 9/11, US Muslims, estimated between six to seven million, have become sensitized to an erosion of their civil rights, with a prevailing belief that America was stigmatizing their faith.
Anti-Muslim frenzy has grown recently over plans to build a mosque near the 9/11 site in New York, resulting in attacks on Muslims and their property and an increase in anti-Muslim hate speech.
Lawmakers in at least 13 states have introduced proposals forbidding local judges from considering Shari`ah when rendering verdicts on issues of divorces and marital disputes.
In Islam, Shari`ah govern issues in Muslims’ lives from daily prayers to fasting and from to inheritance and marital cases to financial disputes.
The Islamic rulings, however, do not apply on non-Muslims, even if in a dispute with non-Muslims.
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