Congress holds hundreds of hearings each year — and most generate more yawns than fireworks.

But the plan to hold hearings on the danger posed by radical Islam in the United States has inspired protest, counterprotest, debate, editorials, petitions and even pray-ins, before the first witness takes the stand.

The goal of the hearings, the first of which is being held Thursday, is “to establish and show the American people that there is a real threat of al-Qaida recruiting and of homegrown terrorists being self-radicalized within the Muslim community,” according to Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee.

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