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. barrie

    islam is not a religion it is and has always been a political movement

    March 7, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  2. barrie

    islam is not a religion it is and has always been a political movement

    March 7, 2011 at 10:33 am |
  3. Jackson Percey Smith

    I am empathetic to the muslim community as my life was saved by a selfless muslim neighbor durting a house fire, but it is absolue folly to assume there are no radicalized fringe members of the community and that the threat of radicalization should not be discussed lest we hurt someone's feelings.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:31 am |
  4. poodaffy

    I've lived alongside of Muslims and I have to say they most are obnoxious, arrogant, greedy, rude, people.They will not turn over the extremists because they believe that muslims are the rightfull owners of everything. I say take ALL muslims, pack them on a ship, and send them to the land of Allah in the middle east. That's where they belong.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  5. Summer

    Everyone just needs to hold hands and get along.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:23 am |
  6. lilpowwow

    We don't need these hearings because we already know why some Muslims are becoming radicalized. The answer is AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. We just need to get up and out of their homelands and business.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Jeff B.

      Yes, Lilpowow...SO correct...because we SAW people in Viet Nam, Cuba and North Korea strap bombs to themselves and attack OUR civilians because of our foreign policy to them, right ?
      If they dont like our policies, let them protest against our government – not our civilians. It's the same with Israel...how many terror plots do you see targeting Knesset ? none –
      How many enemies machine-gunned a kindergarten ? (Ma'alot);
      In ancient times, wars were put on hold for the Olympics – guess who killed an olympic team ?
      You see, the MAIN reason that ANY nation seeks peace is because they fear their OWN death – when you believe in the glory of an afterlife, and the REWARD of martyrdom, you have NO such fear...and thus, no reason to seek peace.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:32 am |
  7. abnguy

    It would be nice to see that many people out protesting terrorist attacks.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:21 am |
  8. F*&kabee

    I see that CNN has less of a filter here than they do about our white male "Christian" politicians, so I'm going to post comments that never made it through on the appropriate pages:

    Point ONE: I think Huckabee should have started his criticisms of celebrities with the male, adulterous, immoral REPUBLICAN celebrity K. Grammar before he stared sounding of at the lip about Portman. After all, it takes two, a man and woman, to produce children.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
  9. tristan20000

    man this out of controll,again the religion of peace protesting for their rights,u bleading liberals u join this groups,should go and protest against al-qaeda who is killling innocent people everyday,but when everyday us servicemen get killed on the line of duty i dont see any protest on the street,i dont any muslim crying on the street,lets speak the truth ,what's going in europe is coming here,this so called muslim want to destroy every thing we built,the muslim comunity first should condome their members u join training camps in afganistan or somalia and after ask for their rigts,they should on the street condeming the killing of us service man in germany few days,and u blediing liberals should your tactics ,making us feel guilty wont change anything,i am imigrant but my country is more important then hurt feelings,i hope this groups stop their protest and join the rest of the country ,ps.and i am taling to real americans

    March 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
  10. F*&kabee

    I see that CNN has less of a filter here than they do about our white male "Christian" politicians, so I'm going to post comments that never made it through on the appropriate pages:

    Point ONE: I think Huckabee should have started his criticisms of celebrities with the male, adulterous, immoral REPUBLICAN celebrity K. Grammar before he stared sounding of at the lip about Portman. After all, it takes two, a man and woman, to produce children.

    Point TWO: with regard to the article about the imbecile McCain not knowing that ipads and ipod are made in China rather than the USA– THE PRESIDENT"S NAME IS OBAMA, not OBMA. Learn how to spell, especially if you could get McCain right. Thank you

    March 7, 2011 at 10:09 am |
    • Nonimus

      Is this like looking for lost keys under a streetlight because the lighting is better?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:57 am |
  11. Jarrod

    Boo hoo! If you had spent all your energy protesting radical Islam the spot light wouldn't be on your communities where your mosques take up collections and funnel it to terrorist groups.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:07 am |
    • Jeff B.

      Jarrod. That's it in a nutshell. And the argument of the liberals would remain the same if "only" a billion of the 1.5 billion Muslims on the planet were radical, OR simply silent ON the radicals. If those "non" radicals would spent 1/10th of the time condemning radical islam, that they do condemning the U.S. or protesting for their "rights", perhaps ppl would have a different opinion.
      "All that is needed for evil to succeed, is for good ppl to do nothing."

      March 7, 2011 at 10:25 am |
    • drc

      That is exactly correct. Had the MAJORITY of peaceful Muslims been protesting the radical muslims at anytime in the last 10 years we would not need these hearings. While there are always radicals in any religion or group, seems to me radicals are hijacking the Muslim religion and the peaceful Muslims SAY NOTHING to denounce it.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  12. Brickell Princess

    If they don't like it, they can always leave and go back to their muslim countries. It is that simple. No one is forcing you to be in the United States, and if you are here, you are subject to our procedures and our laws.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:06 am |
    • jack

      yea! same goes for the christians, have you read their holy book? holy sh1T! it even promotes slavery.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:40 am |
    • Nonimus

      @Brickell Princess
      "If they don't like it, they can always leave and go back to their muslim countries."
      Aren't we talking about Americans? Perhaps you should go back to your country.
      "...you are subject to our procedures and our laws."
      You mean Freedom of Religion, equal protection under the law, Freedom of speech; Those laws?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  13. Dixie

    The problem with the logic in the article and the white elephant in the room is this: WHOLE countries are ruled by a religion that we Westerners would consider radical; it's not just a few that are radical. For instance, Islam's perspective on women is terrifying to me as a woman. Notice pictures of protests in Middle East countries? Where are the women? At home? No voice in the affairs of the coutnry? What about Islam's acceptance of other religions and other ways of thinking? Why would the ideals of Moslems living in the US be any different from what we see elsewhere? THAT is what I fear.
    Please give me an example of a country that upholds Western ideals of freedom and who's majority is Islamic.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:05 am |

      Yeah, I have noticed pictures of women in the middle east, but more importantly, I;ve actually been there: Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon,. The women wear jeans and their hair is uncovered. They listen to pop music, and dare I say, some even drink wine every now and so. Some do cover up: just like the greek orthodox catholics in my neighborhood here in NYC. Exact same head coverings.... Shall I go slamming the Greek orthodoxy's treatment of women because SOME wear head coverings? Or how about the jewish women with wigs?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Mr. Xenophobe

      Turkey, for one.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • ts

      I am concerned about the treatment and rights of women within these countries where human rights are not on the radar. Just to see the view or reasoning behind some of the rules they lay on women within these countries is alarming. And my view comes from people posting on sites like this defending how they treat women coming from both male and female posters. We are so far away from understanding by both me and those posting the reasons behind these rules..

      March 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  14. Yes

    It is about Muslims being what their pedophile prophet ordered.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:00 am |
    • Walpurgis

      Warren Jeffs is a white Christian and a pedophile.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:29 am |
    • Yes

      Warren Jeffs is not Jesus, nor does he claim to be.

      Muslims follow after Mohammad's example & teachings (he killed many people, and had very colorful descriptions of what to do to Jews and those that did not want to convert to Islam)
      Christians follow after Jesus' example & teachings (he loved &healed many people–not just physically, but spiritually&emotionally, and he had many peaceful words about what to do to those who did not welcome his message)

      March 7, 2011 at 10:38 am |
  15. King

    I think this is very necessary. They don't want US prying into their ways to unveil their secrets and lies, of which there are many. Stop the wild, hoax "religion" of convert or die.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:58 am |
    • TinKnight

      Yes, because only the American government is allowed to have a web of many secrets and lies.
      Darn those extremists! 🙂

      March 7, 2011 at 10:24 am |
  16. geecee827

    And I am sure there are no Christian believers among the many paramilitary groups, militias, neo-Nazi party, KKK members and other home-grown good old American terrorist organizations in this Country, isn't that correct, Rep. King? Wasn't that a Cross (symbol of Christianity) that the KKK loved to burn on black people's lawns not so many years ago???

    March 7, 2011 at 9:55 am |
    • TinKnight

      Actually, the KKK was for a long time expressly against anybody that wasn't a native-born white Protestant...Jews, Catholics, African Americans, Native Americans, immigrants of all types...kinda sounds like the modern-day conservative movement, doesn't it?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:22 am |
    • Steven

      "Theirs nothing more sad than a lynching mob, Full of rational men who believe in God" – Conor Oberst

      March 7, 2011 at 10:28 am |
  17. Mike

    Mr. King, please continue with the congressional hearings. The radicalization of American Muslims and Muslim terrorists must be identified, confronted, and defeated by any means necessary.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:54 am |
    • TinKnight

      Mr. King, could you please also begin an investigation into the radicalization of my fellow white Americans? Their bigotry, racism, hate-breeding, and fear-mongering must be identified, confronted, and defeated by any means necessary.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:19 am |
  18. Thinkb4Upost

    Fools. This isn't about Islam. This is about Americans losing their freedoms.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • Walpurgis

      Of course you are right. It just gets up my nose to see people, primarily Christians, try to drag someone else's god through the mud as if we don't have loons using the bible as a reason to do terrorist acts. Average non-Mulsim Americans are in every bit as much danger of losing our freedoms to the same rightwing crazies as Muslim Americans.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  19. Jemmy Perry

    Pjerdoleni Muzulmanie. Sklonowac Adolfa i skurwieli do gazu.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:53 am |
    • gatorpaw

      LOL, nice!

      March 7, 2011 at 10:30 am |
  20. Rose

    @Menwa –
    The difference is Jesus did not teach violence, torture, burning at the stake, etc... The crusades, the Inquisition, all that was done in Jesus' name, but it did not match his teachings of love.
    Muhammad taught / told his followers to kill the infidels, etc. at different times. Personally, I believe that the majority of Muslims are peaceful people, but ISLAM (the religion itself) is a religion of violence and oppression.

    March 7, 2011 at 9:51 am |
    • darkangelx

      No that was his father oh wait they are the same being oh wait read your bible moar.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:04 am |
    • Walpurgis

      Really? Do you have any idea how many children are beaten and abused due to "spare the rod, spoil the child"? I know parents who believed their autistic child was possessed so they beat her like a rag doll until I called Children's Services and they intervened on the child's behalf. Children have died from being beaten and confined in trunks because that's what their Christian leader told them to do. Then there is the old wives to submit to their husbands. Husbands have used this to control their wives via beatings, verbal and emotional abuse.

      Many in the US are blinded to the fact that we have many homegrown terrrorists that abuse and kill people in the name of a Chrstian God–the Westboro Church abuses grieving families at funerals–imagine a group of lunatics carrying signs saying that Jesus was gay outside the tomb where he lay–then we have the Christian terrorists who ignore "Thou Shall Not Kill" in favor of murdering abortion doctors–where is your outraged over those things?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Bernard

      Well according to your description of Christianity which is accurate: Christianity was a violent religion up until several decades ago and only in some developed countries.

      We've got more Christian terrorists in the world today than there are Shiite terrorists (you know, that denomination in Iran of which we keep saying they sponsor terrorism?)

      March 7, 2011 at 10:30 am |
    • Dhulfiqar

      @Rose, If what you said was true about Muhammad, I would not be replying back to you. Every battle that was fought during the time of Prophet Muhammad was a defensive battle. Can you cite actually historic events or proofs that Muhammad killed anyone?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Yes

      @WAL– I'd like to see a world-wide Christian call to murder an individual because he drew an offensive cartoon of Jesus, who actually died for loving others, the way that this has happened multiple times in the last 10 years.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • IDEFI

      Matthew 10:34
      "Do not think that I have come to bringpeace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword." Jesus

      March 7, 2011 at 10:45 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.