Some American Muslims, including at least one in the Lodi area, are concerned that the House Homeland Security Committee hearing on Muslim extremists will unfairly target Islam.
"This seems to be a witch hunt," Lodi Muslim Taj Khan said. "They're going to bring in anti-Muslim propaganda to the hearing."
However, Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Gold River, whose district includes Galt, said it won't be a witch hunt at all, in a phone interview with the News-Sentinel on Tuesday morning.
Lungren, a committee member who will participate in Thursday's hearing, said that a majority of Muslims in America are law-abiding residents, but a small group of extremists are training moderate Muslims to become violent.
"A vast majority of Muslims do not follow these radical teachings," Lungren said. "I think moderate voices in this country are intimidated by the radicals. If we hide this and pretend that it doesn't exist, we're ignoring reality."
Khan responded, "He must have some information I don't have."
If the Homeland Security Committee wants to investigate radicalism, Khan said, it should open it up to terrorism by all nationalities and religions.
At least one parent will testify at the hearing about a son who became "radicalized" in college, got terrorist training overseas and ended up getting killed while fighting on behalf of one of the jihadist groups, Lungren said.
"This family (consists of) good, law-abiding Americans," Lungren said.
Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, commonly known as CAIR, said he doesn't trust Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, R-N.Y., who will chair Thursday's hearing.
"We believe in a fair and just hearing on the issue, but Peter King is not a fair and just leader," Elkarra said. "He's not inviting law enforcement to show up because the numbers will prove him wrong. He's not interested in hard facts; he wants to put on a show."
Lungren recalls serving on the House Judiciary Committee in recent years when it supported prosecuting groups like the Ku Klux Klan on civil rights issues in the South and using religion to justify racial discrimination. Investigating Muslim extremists is nothing different, he added.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, who represents the Lodi area and has numerous Muslims within his district, said Tuesday that he wants the Homeland Security Committee to focus only on terrorism and not law-abiding Muslims.
"Fighting terrorism and protecting our citizens from attack, both abroad and at home, must be our country's top priority," McNerney said in an e-mail Tuesday.
"Any hearings on these topics must focus on the people who have destructive intentions and not impinge or threaten the rights of Muslim-Americans who are law-abiding members of society," McNerney said. "We must work to make our nation secure and also preserve our country's founding principles of religious freedom and due process."
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at firstname.lastname@example.org.