A young Muslim American female student holds the U.S. flag during a 'Children of the World' student pageant at the Islamic Center of America in Dearborn, Michigan.

© 2010 Reuters

(Washington, DC) – Hearings of the US House of Representatives Committee on Homeland Security on the alleged radicalization of the Muslim American community threaten to unjustly conflate Islam with violence and encourage discrimination against a minority population, Human Rights Watch said today.

There are 2.5 million Muslims living in the United States.  At a time when Muslims in great numbers in the Middle East and North Africa have risked injury and death to peacefully protest for freedom and human rights, these hearings send the wrong message, Human Rights Watch said.

“The US Congress has a powerful voice that will be heard by every Muslim peacefully demonstrating for freedom in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya,” said Antonio Ginatta, US advocacy director at Human Rights Watch. “Congress should not be in the business of evaluating the patriotism or loyalty of a religious community."