The Washington Times - March 22, 2011, 07:19PM

Just weeks after House Republicans held a hearing looking at the dangers of radical Muslims in the U.S., Senate Democrats are countering with a hearing of their own, scheduled for after Congress returns from a 10-day vacation, to examine Muslims’ civil rights.

Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, announced the subcommittee hearing Tuesday, saying there has been a spike in anti-Muslim bigotry in the last year that demands closer attention.

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“Our Constitution protects the free exercise of religion for all Americans,” Mr. Durbin said.  “During the course of our history, many religions have faced intolerance. It is important for our generation to renew our founding charter’s commitment to religious diversity and to protect the liberties guaranteed by our Bill of Rights.”

The hearing will be the first ever before the Judiciary Committee’s new subcommittee on the Constitution, civil rights and human rights, which Democrats created this year. Mr. Durbin is the chairman of the subcommittee.

Earlier this month House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, New York Republican, held the first in what he said will be a series of hearings to look at problems posed by radicalized Muslims in the United States.

In 2009, the latest FBi statistics available, anti-Islamic hate crimes accounted for 9.3 percent of the 1,376 religiously motivated hate crimes recorded. That’s far less than the 70.1 percent that were anti-Jewish.