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. gfgfdgfdgf


    March 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |
  2. gfgfdgfdgf

    sorry, but decades of this problem are enough

    March 7, 2011 at 11:24 am |
  3. Robert

    It is a sensitive subject without offending the muslim people, I as a Christian understand the needs for sensitivity. The difference is that it is hard to pinpoint a radical extremist using religious for their own vices as oppose to the NAZI who was one country using Christian beliefs for their distorted views. How can we idenitfy the radical ones if we do not reach out to the Muslim community. Just the way we are reaching out to Muslim countries we have to reach out to the America Muslim community as well.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:23 am |
  4. babygirl

    I am so tired of this muslim crap! What would our founding fathers have done if any muslim was caught and tried for murders against our countries citizens? They would not have put up with it and had those individuals executed. How hard is that??? Today, we are so plagued by 'political correctness', that we are unable to do what is right and just, so that we don't 'look bad' to other nations. We need our country back! If we can't tell who is a muslim terrorist, then we need to be 'extreme' too, and ship all muslim people out of our country and keep them out. I know that it will never happen because we have a country that is run by namy-pamby politicians, but we need to reclaim our country. And if those people that are so 'pro' muslim were to ask a muslim if they consider anyone outside of their muslim/islam beliefs an 'infidel', be sure to perk up your ears and hear what they say, because trust me, you'd be an infidel......

    March 7, 2011 at 11:19 am |
    • Nonimus

      "we need to reclaim our country"
      What makes you think *you* are part of this country?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:31 am |
  5. rivirivi

    First of all it is not truth that if there were a creator, He would declare everything physical worthless. Take that wrong concept out of your minds. Second of all if there is a creator and is limitless, then everything we see and do not see- namely physical and non-physical from the smallest particle of this Earth to the biggest conglomeration of Multi-Universes and everything and everyone exist WITHIN the limitlessness of it all. Furthermore, since we are all swimming in the most wonderful limitless energy soup, separation is not possible. Islamists who want to kill and maim and hurt other people also created by God-whom they call Allah, only because they were born in different parts of this planet and do not like or accept their version of God are wrong and will always be wrong- as would be any other group of humans trying to do the same thing to them. In my particular opinion. Islam is the worst religion for humanity because many millions of human beings – mainly Human Women are kept down, are mutilated at 12, are sold, gifted and traded, stoned, and punished when trying to learn how to read. When All Islamist women are free to love whomever they want for as long as they want, learn business, be free to become president of countries and of corporations, be teachers, lawyers, judges, then I can say, I respect this creed, until that is done, I do not believe is a peaceful creed and what is bad for human women is bad for the whole of humanity. So there. Too bad too sad it is the absolute truth.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Dharma

      Haven't you heard? The biggest Muslim country in the world, i.e. Indonesia, has had a female president. Pakistan, another Muslim country, has had one as well. What can you say about the US?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:39 am |
  6. minto123

    with 13 pages of comments on an issue which is least important than major issues such as poverty, HIV, Cancer, hunger etc which kill million times more people not only in america but in the world. I am convinced that most americans are using their so called "freedom of expression" (which i highly doubt is even an absolute freedom) are xenophobic, without a life, and pro-nazis.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:15 am |
  7. Dixie

    Still looking for a country that's Islamic and upholds the ideals of Western freedom and justice . . . for all.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:08 am |
  8. Mr. Xenophobe

    I for one applaud Senator McCarthy's .... er, I mean Rep. King's efforts to rout out the insidious cancer of communism threatening our country from within. Oops, did I say communism? I mean radical Islam. We need to have hearings, discover "believer" and even pinko, "Unamerican" sympathizers of Islam. Should be easy: brown skin, check!; prays 5 times a day, check! women wear funny scarfs, check! But sympathizers will be harder to spot. Keep an eye on your neighbors. Do they act strangely (ie. different from you)?? Be sure to report them to Rep King Blacklists and threatened imprisonment would be so cool and would definitely make true Americans safer.

    God bless us in this endeavor. And by "us", I don't include Muslims or Jews or Hindus or Mormons or Buddhists or Unitarians or any of those "un-Christian" religion that don't believe in a loving, all-inclusive God.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Big Bob

      Considering how radicalized the media and "higher" academia have become over the last 40 years, McCarthy didn't go far enough. Like the warmth of your sarcasm though...

      March 7, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Big Bum

      Boy big bob, you love to throw that radicalism buzzword around. Do you also enjoy Glenn Beck?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:36 am |
  9. gene

    American is not hyphenated. See, always muslim first and America never.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:00 am |
  10. Tired of the nut jobs

    Everyone says "Thank a Solider for protecting our freedom" Does this not included someone that believes in a different God? Oh my Goodness. I said it. "Another God". Not long ago, Catholicism was torturing people to believe in their God, now they just want your sons. That's OK? Freedom foe some of you is just a word you throw around. It makes me laugh to think that when someone from a Muslim nation comes here to live and become a citizen, I would bet my left leg that 80% of you people that don't want the Mosque there, COULDN'T PASS THAT TEST.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • GG USA

      Land of the free (if you're a rich white Christian) and home of the brave (buzzword to help the military budget)

      March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  11. Big Bob

    Interesting contrast with the protests in the Middle East. If you watch the footage of protests in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, etc, there is nary a woman in sight. The majority of the protesters are hijabed woman. Where are the Muslim men? I see one mis-guided, relativist Christian clergyman and what looks like 2 gay men under an umbrella. Those poor souls would be the first victims of islamist. Also, you always hear the proponents of hijab say it preserves women's modesty. However, when seen throught western eyes in a western setting, It actually screams "Look at me, I'm a muslim!" The muslim women in the ME would love to go without it. The muslimas in the west wear it to provoke.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:57 am |


    March 7, 2011 at 10:53 am |
    • Nonimus

      Well, damn. How long is it going to take? People been waiting for over 2000 years, what's the frickin holdup?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:19 am |
  13. Edward

    Might this discussion be needed because of endless Islamic violence all around the world?

    March 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • John

      You say that like Christian religions NEVER foster violence or terrorism. Read history and and even the newspapers and you will find that violence from radical Christian groups is out there plenty. Whether it is the "pro-lifer" that bombs an abortion clinic or murders a doctor in his church or the KKK or skin-heads. Shall I go on.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  14. george in texas

    the muslims were given plenty of chances to help us understand terror that originates from their culture-religion-civilization. but they stonewalled, made excuses, hid behind religious lables, and even called us names for wanting to defend ourselves. clearly, they have failed. but we must not. let there be hearing as long as it takes. it is our burden to civilize the muslim socieity.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:50 am |
  15. JSB

    Anyone with working gray matter between their ears would have to say this is a problem .. There is nothing wrong with saying or acknowledging that. It is not a condemnation of Islam or all Muslims. Yes, there is a danger in targeting the whole population but that should not be the objective nor should it be reason to stick your head in the sand and ignore it. Let's hope prudent, rational heads of all Americans prevail.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Nonimus

      What's your definition of "this," which is a problem? Terrorism, radical Muslims, radicalization of any group, or the cookie racket run by the Girl Scouts.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Mikke

      Americans have rational heads? I don't know what America you're living in cause all I see here is bigoted speech and xenophobic fueled violence.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  16. Chris

    When Christian Churches are no longer bombed and Christian politicians are not killed in Muslim countries, when Saudi Arabia allows a Christian Church on its soil, maybe then I will find some common ground with American Muslims. Try living as a Christian in a Muslim country and see how far your freedoms go.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Natediggs

      You should look up what happened in Bosnia, where Christians went around blowing up Muslims. After that you should read up on the crusades, where a person was encouraged to save their soul by killing as many Muslims as they could.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:54 am |
    • Nate

      This is about America and how we react, not about how other countries treat religions on their soil. We are striving to be better than them, no lower ourselves to their level like you are doing.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Lilly

      There are a few Churches in Saudi... they are just not in your face. Where is the Mosque in the Vatican? It is a country. I have lived many years as a Christian in Muslim lands and really... it is few and far between that there are issues. Now.. if you want to complain about mistreatment... go to some areas of India.

      March 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • Church of Suicidal

      And sinking to their level is a valid strategy?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
    • Normon

      Are you saying we Americans should restrict our own rights because some other country does?
      That's just idiotic. In what way do the rules in Saudi Arabia affect our Freedom of Religion?
      Should we ban men from voting in America, because women aren't allowed to vote in Saudi Arabia?
      Should we ban Italian shoes until the Vatican allows the wearing of shorts in St. Peter's?

      March 7, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • kelly

      you aparently haven't lived in one!rather you are portraying an image of something that someone else told you that they can't verify themselves. Look around and see how many westerners live in the middle east. They are free to go to their country any day but they choose to stay.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • John

      If you are going to have hearings focusing on Muslims, you need to also look at so called Christian extremists in this country as well. The problems isn't religion per say, its extremism and that exists in all religions, not just Islam.

      And Actually it doesn't matter what they do in Saudi Arabia or any other country to Christian religions. A little geography lesson, this is the United States of America and people have the right to practice whatever religion they want or even none at all.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • SensibleChristian

      This is the U.S. of A. We cant be compared with any other country of the world. We are the best and with that comes the responsibility to help other people in need.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
  17. MadMo

    To learn more details of Islam cult/decease/cancer visit
    'faith freedom'
    'jihad watch'
    'the religion of peace'

    March 7, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • mk

      you are absolutely right. They kdnap your women, make them slaves.
      25 million Hindus in Pakistan in 1947 have been reduced few thousands – greatest massacre not reported .
      This is a cult.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
  18. Yes

    BE REAL– there really is no point in arguing about the two religions

    Today, if you were locked in bus, with two other people, and told one was going to blow herself up, I'm sure you quickly try to do something about the woman in a black burqa rather than the woman with a nun's habit.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Paul

      America, don't be fulled by muslims. They will kill you, there are no "good" muslims and you should know that by now.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • potomacscott

      That,my friend,is real. Thank you.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:33 am |
  19. MadMo

    We are living in 1930s(pre WWII) world.
    30s had Naizsm. 60 had Communism. 90s and now has Islam.
    Every body should do/say iSlam.

    March 7, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  20. Teaneck

    If you disagree with someone, just call him/her a name. How adult!

    March 7, 2011 at 10:42 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.