Protesters rally in NY ahead of hearings on radical Islam
March 6th, 2011
06:37 PM ET

Protesters rally in NY ahead of hearings on radical Islam

Editor's Note: CNN’s Soledad O’Brien chronicles the dramatic fight over the construction of a mosque in the heart of the Bible belt. “Unwelcome: The Muslims Next Door”, airs Sunday, March 27 at 8 p.m. E.T.

By the CNN Wire Staff

Religious leaders, community members and activists took to the streets Sunday in New York to protest upcoming congressional hearings, convened by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Peter King, on "the radicalization of American Muslims."

Demonstrators stood underneath umbrellas in a cold, sideways rain as speakers in Times Square addressed the crowd. Many said the hearings unfairly target Islam and warned they could stoke fear and fuel violence against the wider Muslim community.

Congress is scheduled to begin the hearings this week under the direction of King, R-New York.

"Congressman's King's hearings have the danger of portraying all Muslims and Islam as the enemy. And this is absolutely wrong and false. Our common enemy is extremism," said Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, one of the organizers of the rally.

iReport: Images from the protest

He stressed it is possible to be both a devoted Muslim and a loyal American.

Earlier in the day, King defended the hearings on CNN's "State of the Union" program.

"We're talking about al Qaeda," he said. "We're talking about the affiliates of al Qaeda, who have been radicalizing, and there's been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there. And that's where the threat is coming from at this time."

King compared the goal of the hearings to investigating the Mafia within the Italian community or going after the Russian mob.

In New York, protesters waved U.S. flags and held signs that read: "Today, I'm a Muslim too" and "Mr King: Lies & Distortions do not make us more secure."

A rival, much smaller protest supporting the hearings gathered briefly near the rally.

"I don't know what anybody else is thinking, but this war on terror - this isn't some operation overseas. That's part of it. But this war on terror is happening right here, right now and we need to deal with it," said Andy Sullivan, with the Liberty Alliance Coalition.

Meanwhile, at a Muslim community center in Virgina, Denis McDonough, deputy national security advisor to the president, spoke about the need to prevent violent extremism and said U.S. Muslims are part of the solution.

"The bottom line is this - when it comes to preventing violent extremism and terrorism in the United States, Muslim Americans are not part of the problem, you're part of the solution," McDonough said. "Of course, the most effective voices against al Qaeda's warped worldview and interpretation of Islam are other Muslims."

He stressed the need to come together as Americans to promote tolerance.

"We must resolve that, in our determination to protect the nation, we will not stigmatize or demonize entire communities because of the actions of a few. In the United States of America, we don't practice guilt by association. And let's remember that just as violence and extremism are not unique to any one faith, the responsibility to oppose ignorance and violence rests with each of us," he said.

A White House source said McDonough's speech was not meant as a "prebuttal" to King's hearings, while a spokesman said the administration is finalizing its strategy to help stop violent extremism.

The plan includes creating alliances with local Muslim officials and expanding engagement within Muslim communities with the goal of preventing radical violence and identifying extremists.

"This is an important issue, and we welcome congressional interest. This is about our long-term strategy and what works, based on evidence and careful consideration," said White House spokesman Nick Shapiro.

–CNN's Susan Candiotti and Bonney Kapp contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Interfaith issues • Islam • Politics

soundoff (933 Responses)
  1. Ken

    Hey protesters ... don't like us USA citizens not likeing you... GO HOME! And take your dorkie religion with you

    March 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Lee

      And another cretin who doesn't know what being an American means. It's more than just being born here. It also means believing in those things America is supposed to stand for, and you're bigotry isn't one of them..Go home to whatever dark cave you or your ancestors came from.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • Tom Thumb

      @ Ken. They're your neighbors.... Look outside

      March 6, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
    • jack

      ken, their home is America.

      you so stupid.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  2. SadieSadie

    If muslims really wanted to rid the world of radical muslims they would open themselves up and allow the government to find them.
    I agree with the statement that it is no different than searching through the rank of Italians to find the mafia families.
    We are americans have every right to protect ourselves and our families from groups of people who will do whatever they can to distroy our way of life.
    Honestly, I think that there are so many people cow towing to these muslims (and in effect to the extremists) that they are dooming us all to distruction. Way to go.... keep up the great work lefties!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • jack

      yes, same could be said of the christians. o wait! never gonna happen. see what i did thar

      March 7, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  3. wes

    Can we have a hearing on radical Christians too? Thats the group that's scaring me.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Lee

      Radical christians? Oh, goodness, there can't be any such thing can there? You mean like those American evangelicals who went to Africa to convince African christians to execute gays? Nothing wrong with that is there? After all, they're christians.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
  4. G Alex

    Maybe if MUSLIMS start addressing the root causes of why so many of them are trying to injure and kill our citizens through terorrism, I will give them a break. But too mayn Muslims allow imams to stand up in front of them, in masjids all over the US, and spout hateful language designed to negatively influence and incite their youngest congregants. TAKE CARE OF YOUR OWN PEOPLE, please. And until you do, do not be surprised when average Americans look at you as if you are a threat to their peaceful existence.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
  5. james

    CNN is part of the problem, just 3 days ago a Muslim kills 2 American Airmen in Germany and none of these people, like Russell Simmons or Iman Rauf were out protesting his actions or offering condolences for their families. CNN scrubbed the terrorist attack from the front page and refused to call it terrorism. These Muslims protesting want you dead.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
    • Lee

      And everytime you see a christian killing another christian do you see the heads of the catholic or any other christian church or christian leader protesting those actions or offering condolences to their families? No, of course not. I appears that bigots like you only think muslims should have to do that. BTW i'm an athiest and think all these religions are absurditys

      March 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm |
    • Jim in Florida

      This is a spot on post – CNN is the leading network for Islamic Fundamentalist terror denial. My point in a previous p[ost is that the Muslims who call themselves "Americans" are either part of the problem or part of the solution. Doesn't sound liek the protesters are part of the solution now does it?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  6. greenbird321

    If you want a clear picture of radical Islam encroaching upon a country, take a look at the UK, Germany, and France. For a proper response, read Cameron, Merkel, and Sarkozy's recent statements about how 'multiculturalism has failed' in their countries.

    We need our President to make a similarly strong statement to those who want to bring radicalism and extremism into our country and communities. This is not about Muslims; it is about violent extremism being tolerated in small amounts, allowing it to put it's roots down in our nation, as it has done in the three aforementioned European nations.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:30 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Is this how they did it in Europe?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
  7. ethio

    i am muslim too

    March 6, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  8. JLP

    If Muslims would direct their energy to help find potential terrorists in their midst instead of protesting against these hearings, we would all be able to work together.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
    • GV

      Totally Agree. Moderate Muslims, please help!

      March 7, 2011 at 4:36 am |
    • srslyWakeUp

      There is no such thing.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:31 am |
  9. chuckmartel

    King is so bigoted for singling out islam. Just because they are the only religion responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans in the past 10 years does not mean they all explode. The fact that they are responsible for more terrorist attacks and incidents in the west than all other psychos combined is easily explained by the crusades. However, I am still puzzled why muslims blow up other muslims on a daily basis in islamiland. Putting terrorism aside, I think the US needs a bunch of religious rag headed fundamentalists who threaten cartoonists with death and whip out rugs to pray 5 times a day. The bible bangers are not enough. In Moscow, France, and other European countries the muslims clog the streets with their rug praying and block traffic. I can't wait.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:22 pm |
    • Lee

      Have you looked in the mirror lately to see what a bigot really looks like? Of course you could just pretend you're King since you're character is about the same, shameful.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • chuckmartel

      Lee, it is so nice to see a post devoid of cliches and addresses the facts presented. By the way, since when are the PC so ga ga over people who rug pray 5 times a day and have no concept of seperation of religion and government? Some secular types think that our indigenous bible bangers are bad enough and the last thing this country needs is more GD religion.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  10. john

    I respectfully submit that Congressman King is fringe himself. Remember his proposed law banning firearms within 1000 feet of a federal official?

    March 6, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  11. RG

    If they want an end to violent extremism, they should start with the Fox Network

    March 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Alex in NJ

      Fox is definitely slanted and says some really stupid things. They certainly aren't violent though. Also, they are no worse than MSNBC. The difference though is that us on the Right don't try to use code words for censorship like, "hate speech," to try and silence those we disagree with. We actually respect freedom of speech across the board, not just when we agree with what's being said.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
    • bryan swicicki

      It wasent Steve Doocy who left a car bomb in time square was it?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:53 pm |
  12. john

    What is probably fueling home grown extremism is our involvement in the middle eastern "wars" we created.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • GV

      Really? Who exactly were we at war with on 09/11? Who were we at war with during the first WTC attacks in 1993? Who were we at war with when the USS Cole was bombed in 2000?

      Can you blame America for the crazed gunmen that shot up Mumbai? How about Blaming America for the terror attacks in Russia by Chechen Muslims. I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

      March 7, 2011 at 4:33 am |
    • WallaWalla

      You can probably blame America for giving massive amounts of small arms and other weapons to Iran, Iraq, Israel and Afghanistan, contributing to destablization across the entire Middle East. That didn't cause the terrorists attacks, but it didn't help either.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
  13. Big Man

    Rep. King is a zionist lackey. He has no clue what's going on globally, only what the "Lobby" feeds him. He is an embarrassment to America and its principles.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:16 pm |
    • Jim in Florida

      Big Man sounds like a anti-Semite, not hard to believe he would be an extremist Islamist supporter

      March 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
  14. mostafa

    jim you`re an animal , or perhabs animal would not talk bs like you did , rot in hell btch .

    March 6, 2011 at 7:15 pm |
  15. cobra

    Load them all up and ship them back to their favorite mus lim country!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • Samir

      Yeah, I was born in NY City. Been here in the United States my WHOLE LIFE. Now I work for the Government. I'm American.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:23 pm |
    • Lee

      Sry Samir that you and other muslims have to put up with the ignornace and xenophobia of so many who try to call themselves Americans without having any idea what that means. These hearings are bring back memories of McCarthyism and fear mongering the Repuglican party is so well known for.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:29 pm |
    • Al

      That would include you, wouldn't it? Many muslims are born here and are just as American as you. So, if they must go...

      March 6, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  16. V4Vendetta

    "there's been self-radicalization going on within the Muslim community, within a very small minority, but it's there. And that's where the threat is coming from at this time." Truer words have not been spoken on this subject. Not all Muslims are our enemies, just as we are not the enemy of all muslims. There are good people who love their children on both sides.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • Uncle Sam

      Any proof or stats or is this just your worthless opinion?

      March 6, 2011 at 7:19 pm |
    • Cason

      1.5 Billion Muslims and we aren't dead yet. There's your statistic.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:32 pm |
  17. Jim in Florida

    In New York, protesters waved U.S. flags and held signs that read: "Today, I'm a Muslim too" and "Mr King: Lies & Distortions do not make us more secure.
    Hey, protesters, get a grip. CONGRESSMAN (not Mister) King hasn't even had hearings yet. You are either part of the problem or part of the solution. We DO have a problem with Muslim extremists – both overseas (actually the whole world has a problem) and the home grown kind too. So, when the House Committee on HOMELAND SECURITY wants to figure out why we are having this problem at home, you either get in line to help solve the problem or you are going to become part of it rather quickly.

    By your protesting and calling Concressman King a liar and distorter even BEFORE he has the hearings, why, I'd think you are a supporter of extremism or you don't think we have a problem. If you don't believe we have a problem or simply don't choose to help solve the problem then you do indeed become part of it.

    CAIR propaganda efforts notwithstanding

    March 6, 2011 at 7:13 pm |
    • DTB

      Not surprised to see something this stupid to come from Florida.
      Can we just saw off that state already and send it adrift?

      March 6, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
    • anythingGos

      @DTB. the name-calling will NOT help. A bit of cooperation from Muslim community to congress (the legislative body that represents majority of the US population) will go a long way I'm absolutely sure that American Muslim leaders will have their time to express their views during the hearing itself. If they'll be denied it, then demonstrate in protest, not before -:)

      March 6, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • HistoryHistory

      Can you say "McCarthy"?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Jim in Florida

      Great insight DTB, I happen to live in Florida, not from here originally. I suppose your state is the elitist leader in blog commentary. I have , however, witnessed the result of an Islamic Fundamentalist terrosist attack firsthad, you should hope you never have to.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • bryan swicicki

      well put Jim

      March 6, 2011 at 8:51 pm |
    • jack

      na jim, you think wrong. your broad stroking and thats what's the protest is all about aka king broad stroking the muslim community.

      the same thing could be said about christian fundies, but you know, those never get the headlines since the whole delusional christian nation thing is going on.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:06 am |
  18. Uncle Sam

    These hearing are needed and the Muslims must not like them or they wouldn't be protesting.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  19. Jim in Florida

    Probably a CAIR funded BOTNET

    March 6, 2011 at 7:07 pm |
  20. loopy

    I see the blogs have gone apeshlt. Nothing looks right. But a little while ago there was something that looked like a massive internet attack...using someone's botnet. I shored up my firewall and then came here.
    Did CNN get goosed by these botnets or is it my browser?

    March 6, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.