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. Levi Ahmed Roosevelt

    I beliave that no.14 has made the point, unfortunately most of the comments here are ignorant and build no middle ground. The facts are there for all to see, today in the world, there is a pandemic of muslims trying to grab the country/or regions of a country they occupy and rule with a radicalized agenda and barbaric means, it's education – yes. But America isn't going to fix the infrastructure or mindset of these countries. I would guess (ignorant of actually numbers I admit) that most muslins living in America came to persue a higher education or actually use the degree they achieved abroad...I am sure the non-higher educated came to America because they don't support what happens in their home land, Try to imagine leaving everything you are familiar with, cousins, parents, friends and moving to a completely new country. The biggest answer is for the movements to be coming from the muslim community in America (I think). They should make sure they are a part of any wide movement or hearing the American political system holds to Islam/Musslims. I believe America is a better place, there are 300 million of us that don't think non-white christians from non-white christian countries should get out of the country....Kings hearing will happen, and there should be a competent muslim representation working with them to find a workable, tolerant, American means to protect against radicalization of the youth here in America. Last but not least, please watch, My name is Khan – great movie and I think if you are empathetic at all (which all citizens of earth should be or they should "GET OUT") you might realize things from another perspective. Mind you, my statement is agreeing with investigating a move such as Kings, however, my statement is also saying that we cannot alienate the Muslim communites, muslim Americans or just VISAs. We are Amercians, we are supposed to be better. Abraham Lincoln: A house divided against itself cannot stand ALSO "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." and LASTLY: "I don't like that man. I must get to know him better."
    — Abraham Lincoln
    Live long and prosper and be a good citizen of earth

    March 7, 2011 at 9:46 am |
    • Levi Ahmed Roosevelt

      I did not intend to agree with 14 haha I don't know how i posted the wrong person I meant to agree with – this isn't the best way of editing a post...I think the number of the posts changes with replies, i meant the examples that "Reality" posted on terrorist events.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  2. johnee

    Getting sick of feds not protecting us from islam. What does it take a lawsuit? Yes, ISLAM IS THE PROBLEM ! Islam has always been the problem since it was invented. In every corner of the globe, once islam takes hold, all others die, just like koran and hadith CLEARLY STATE. IT IS TIME FOR OUR GOVT TO PROTECT AMERICANS FROM ISLAM & NOT PRETEND ISLAM IS PEACEFUL ! TIME FOR OUR COURTS TO EXAMINE KORAN & HADITH

    March 7, 2011 at 9:43 am |
  3. Robert

    I hate representative King.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:41 am |
  4. Sagebrush Shorty.

    If you don't think that Islam is radical then become a cartoonist and see how that works out.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:28 am |
  5. Erik

    Muslims who are radicalized must be deported. Simple as that. Let them spew their vitriole somewhere else. Why are we letting these "people" in anyway ?? All you head in your but liberals wake up and smell the coffee.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • Unreal

      @Erik - we let a lot of "these 'people' in" because THEY WERE BORN HERE and are US Citizens, you bigot. Same goes for all of you spouting that "this is OUR country, not theirs" crap. Did you all forget your basic US history? The Pilgrims left England to get away from the same kind of religious bigotry that Muslims are dealing with now. And when they landed here, in "our country" they took the land away from the people who were already living here, so is it really OUR country?

      March 7, 2011 at 9:47 am |
    • Peter

      I like the way this guy so patriotically says "Our Country", but will not even hesitate to terrorize and plunder "our country". You double faced and lowly human beings.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
  6. Sagebrush Shorty.

    No sympathy for these people. They brought it on themselves by refusing to denounce Radical Islam. Now they are whining about being investigated. Too bad.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:26 am |
  7. Andrew

    I have a right to bomb!

    March 7, 2011 at 9:24 am |
  8. jason

    good while we got them all lined up in nyc bombing run!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
  9. WVlady63


    March 7, 2011 at 9:19 am |
    • NJThompson

      It is times like these that I ask myself, "Will responding to this statement do ANYTHING? Should I just let this unfortunately weak-minded, indoctrinated person just be?" I'm guessing that WV stands for West Virginia...

      March 7, 2011 at 9:38 am |
    • Oh, I See.

      Then your "NJ" means what, that you're an arrogant ass from a cesspool state?

      March 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
  10. Sanity, At last.


    Go there. Educate yourselves.
    ...be ready.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:18 am |
  11. Sid

    Islam is the most anti-secular religion. There is no place for it in a secular democratic society. Whenever muslims are in the west they demand equal rights (and special concessions in the name of religion). However, wherever they are in the majority, they turn into an Islamic state, impose the sharia and use blasphemy laws to oppress the minorities.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:17 am |
  12. Sanity, At last.


    ....read it. Learn it. Arm yourself with it.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:16 am |
    • Javed

      To know about Islam – read the Quran rather than some Islamophobe websites . Know the real Islam – watch GuideUSTV .Listen to Yusuf Estes and Yvonne Ridley who embraced Islam when they read the real Quran ..

      March 7, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Oh, I See.

      If only we could figure out which Koran was the "real" one. It seems that we're all reading the 'wrong' ones with bad translations.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:50 am |
    • Javed

      FYI – Unlike other religious scriptures – not a letter of Quran has changed in last 1400 years . There is just one version of Quran through out the world .
      Most of the earlier translations were done by Orientalists and Islamophobes with "crusader" mindset . However , you can pick up translations that – Sahih International

      We have, without doubt, sent down the Message; and We will assuredly guard it (from corruption). The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 15,Verse 9

      And if you are in doubt as to what We have revealed from time to time to Our servant, then produce a Sura like thereunto; and call your witnesses or helpers (If there are any) besides Allah, if your (doubts) are true.The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 2,Verse 23

      March 7, 2011 at 9:59 am |
  13. jim

    Guess we won't be seeing House hearings on radical Christianity anytime soon...........chase the boogeyman 😉

    March 7, 2011 at 9:10 am |
  14. pablo

    I think that it is plan to see that Islam, or at least the perception of Islam is not compatible with western culture. This has been the case since the beginning of Islam. There has always been compatibility issues between Muslim and non Muslim peoples.
    I think that we can all agree that must Muslims are good, decent people. The problem is that the number of radical suicide bombers are disproportionately Muslim. Notice I said suicide bombers and not terrorist. Terrorist come in all sorts of flavors, but by and large, suicide bombers come in one; Muslim.
    Because of this alone, the perception created for the non-Muslim world is that Muslims are radical nut jobs who must be stopped at all costs.
    While, I have been to the middle east, I have never been in a mosque, so I cant say if they are teaching this crap or not.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Bubba

      "Terrorist come in all sorts of flavors, but by and large, suicide bombers come in one; Muslim."

      Ever heard of the Tamil Tigers?

      March 7, 2011 at 9:13 am |
  15. Willie12345

    If there isn't a problem with outside forces attempting to radicalize US Muslims, wonderful. If there is a problem, wouldn't you want to know it? If there was a problem, wouldn't you want to help stop it?

    March 7, 2011 at 8:57 am |
  16. Dee

    It’s just so funny what Muslims ask for here, Muslim countries would NEVER give members of other religions in those countries in a million years. Speaking from experience. Besides, what the hell are you so afraid of? This is not attacking a religion, this is attacking those who take it as a cover to destroy everything this country and culture stands for. When YOU, the citizen have the right to speak, it’s because this country has that freedom, and those who take Islam cover to destroy it, are also destroying your ability to hold these protests. So what the heck are you protesting?

    March 7, 2011 at 8:56 am |
    • ol cranky

      funny, so you would want to turn our country into a theocracy so this Christian country can treat others the same way Muslim run countries do? Sounds like you'd fit in better in one of those Muslim countries since that's the power you want religion to have – oh that's right, you only want to be where you are in the group that can impose BS religious based rules

      March 7, 2011 at 9:08 am |
    • Phaethor

      Dee, and all the other haters here, where is this same livid hatred against Christian Terrorists? The Organized Groups of Christian Extremists that promote Anti-Government, Anti-Rights, Anti-Religious Freedom, Anti-Everything that doesn't spew from the hate filed words of their pastors, leaders and politicians. These groups like The KKK, Army of God, Hutaree,
      Church of Jesus Christ–Christian, Aryan Nations, The Order, Branch Davidians, Montana Freemen, Posse Comitatus, National Alliance,
      Council of Conservative Citizens, Phineas Priesthood are only a small number and their supporters number in the tens of thousands. Muslim Americans DO stand up and decry all kinds of violence in the world, not just from Muslim Extremists but from everyone. The fact that Christians turn a blind eye to their own Extremist Terrorist Groups and Individuals that greatly outnumber the Extremists that claim the side of Islam but aren't. These Christian Terrorists are supported and praised by everyday Christians. Remove the beam from your own eye before asking to remove the mote from your brothers eye.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  17. Joe

    This committee will make sure that no Muslim ever works in Hollywood again

    March 7, 2011 at 8:49 am |
  18. Peter

    80% of our inmates r Christian. That's says it all.

    March 7, 2011 at 8:38 am |
    • pablo

      80% of the inmates are also Black. It has nothing to do with religion. It is a race thing.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:49 am |
    • Ellie

      And there are more men in prison than woman. It's a gender thing!

      March 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • @Pablo

      Pablo–we all know the drug wars on American streets trace back to your fam in Mexico

      March 7, 2011 at 11:14 am |
  19. Peter

    The main goal od these hearings is to make Muslims feel like this is not their country and to push non American Muslims againsts Muslims. What Peter king wants is some Muslim to react violently to his unbelieveable bigoted hearings so he can then just say I told u so.

    This is really aipac disguised as America, the Israelis know the biggest threat to Israel is the western Muslims. In 50 years they will have gain enough political power to change foreign policy.

    We now live in a country where it's almost a sin to be Muslim. Why? Because 19 guys? What about the 300 Muslims who were murdered by the 19? Were they terrorist too. Sounds just like Israel to me.

    March 7, 2011 at 8:37 am |
    • chef dugan

      I see them protesting Mr. King's hearings but I'm waiting for them to protest the acts of their countrymen in the Middle East. They have big mouths about this but are silent when it comes to reacting against their own.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Herman Minkin

      Why dont you put your ASS where your mouth is.
      Take a walk in a City like Kandahar,or Kabul,or even Baghdad dress like a westerner then when they cut your head with you screaming"I love all you Muslims"you can't kill me.See how far that gets you as your head rolls on the ground.F-–g idiot.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:32 am |
    • Erik

      No mr. Moron, not the 19; it was the hundreds and Hundreds dancing in the streets in Michigan and NJ. THAT is the problem.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:36 am |
    • CW

      Countrymen? Islam is a religion, you dolt.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  20. Nick San Diego

    No King, Its NOT like invesigating the MAFIA or the RUSSIAN MOB. It's more like McCARTHISM. all over again, whoo sees enemies everywhere he looks.
    Shame on you.

    March 7, 2011 at 8:36 am |
    • Robert R. Hastings Sr.

      I see ... so Mr. King you are a "radical" yourself also right just not a muslim one?

      March 7, 2011 at 9:00 am |
    • Karla

      Yes, and the irony is that Rep. King was an ardent supporter of the IRA.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • chef dugan

      Keep it up Mr. King. Muslims cannot be trusted once they leave their own little circles. They are devious, will lie at the drop of a hat and hate you while giving you a big smile. And they mean America no good.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:21 am |
    • Dubhly

      its more like they are talking about JUST the Russian mob while not talking about the whole problem of organized crime. There are plenty of extremist, just pick about any cause, and double that if its a religious cause. To only talk about one part does not serve to deal with the whole problem.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:23 am |
    • Erik

      Hey nick, back to bed with you. Too early out there. you must not be thinking clearly. Mccarthyism was against communism , an economic model. This is a state(s) sponsored religion who's aim is to delete us from the world. Get the difference ??? Even in California, you must be able to tell the difference between those who wish to dominate us economically and those who wish to kille us. Go back to your budget problems and work there before sticking you head into the outside world.

      March 7, 2011 at 9:33 am |
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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.