WASHINGTON (AP) — Top Democrats are defending their appointment of a Muslim congressman to the House Intelligence Committee after protests erupted on social media, warning the move is dangerous.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi this week appointed Rep. Andre Carson of Indiana to the panel, which oversees the government's intelligence departments and activities. Much of the business that comes before the committee is classified.
Anti-Muslim protests erupted on Twitter and other social media with complaints that exposing American secrets to Carson could be dangerous.
Democrats widely rejected that view. Pelosi said Carson is the only member of Congress to have served in a Department of Homeland Security Fusion Center, which provides intelligence sharing and training across levels of government. Carson also serves on the House Armed Services Committee.
Rep. Adam Schiff of California, the senior Democrat on the panel, called the protests un-American. He said including Muslim Americans in public policy issues is "an essential element in preventing the kind of alienation that has made too many young European Muslims vulnerable to extremism."
Rep. Joseph Crowley of New York, vice chairman of the Democratic Caucus, called on his colleagues to renounce the attacks.
"We will never be able to grow as a society if we allow this kind of hatred and division to go unchecked," Crowley wrote in a letter to his colleagues.