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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. ken100

    What's the problem with a hearing to talk about an obvious problem?! Fort Hood happened! Sure, there should be more hearings: why Blacks drop out of school at a 50% rate, why Blacks make up half of the prison population, why Asians succeed in America even though they are as identifiable as Blacks, why mind altering drugs are supported by Democrats, ....

    March 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
  2. irockOK

    ProudToBeMuslim

    It has come to the point where all muslims have to exercise their 2nd amendment rights and bear arms. If christian fanatics come to you house to arrest you on the basis of your religion, blow their brains out.

    ------------------------------------------------
    Smart guy, When they come to you ...r house, They more than likely will not be there to arrest you when the time comes.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  3. johnpaul

    muhammed was a murderer and a child molester

    March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  4. New York Tony

    Don't worry people – the republic will survive!
    Personally, I disagree with the protesters and feel thet the hearings shoujld go on.
    However, the protest is a good thing so as to keep the scope of the hearings in check.
    Thank God for the First Amendment – sort of like what the Supreme Court said last week.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:00 pm |
  5. pritiblond

    We must never let America become like France where muslims are allowed to clog busy streets with thousands of worshippers (protestors) prostrating themselves with their butts in the air making a clever statement that Islam is the future of France. See http://downloads.cbn.com/cbnnewsplayer/cbnplayer.swf?aid=1793

    March 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
  6. Bhavin

    All Muslims are not terrorists BUT all terrorist are Muslims.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • WallaWalla

      Like Timothy McVeigh! And the IRA! and the Red Brigades! and the FLQ! and...yeah, no, you're an idiot.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm |
    • David

      All terrorists are Muslims? I wonder what Timothy McVeigh would say to that, or members of the KKK.

      Oops, there we go again, shattering the whole fearmongering junk I see so many people on this board posting. For a country that claims the rest of the world envies their freedom, some of you sure seem intent on denying freedom to anyone you don't like.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
  7. ProudToBeMuslim

    It has come to the point where all muslims have to exercise their 2nd amendment rights and bear arms. If christian fanatics come to you house to arrest you on the basis of your religion, blow their brains out.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • SconnieGuz

      die pig muslim die

      March 7, 2011 at 11:58 am |
    • Lubna

      Everyone has forgotten how Muslims in Tunis and Egypt were able to affect positive change without the use of weapons. They forget how real Muslims protected their Christian countrymen as they held mass in Tahrir square. It seems that the ignorant among us are blind to the fact that billions of Muslims practice their faith with no violence. They show us how tolerance and acceptance is done. The conservative extremists in our country need to be part of a hearing and weeded out of our society before they cause real damage.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:09 pm |
  8. irockOK

    WallaWalla

    You want to kill all the Muslims in the United States to protect your freedoms. The cognitive dissonance to believe such a statement is absolutely amazing. You don't understand freedom, democracy, the Islamic faith, or apparently even human decency. Don't vote, please.

    ________________________________________________________________________________________________
    This is the United states of America, Yes if you threaten our freedom we will retaliate like no other you have ever seen. This is a christian nation like it or not. Christianity is so embedded into the grain\fabric of this country it will take your screwed up mess of a religion century`s to over come. But sadly due to our own libtard democratic stupidity islam will someday far in the future be the domenant sadly, probably only religion people are allowed to openly practice. You will need to start by getting our liberal politically correct government to remove in god we trust on our currency and change it to allah or how ever you spell that crap.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:54 am |
    • WallaWalla

      If you think this is a Christian nation then you flunked out of history class.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:11 pm |
  9. SconnieGuz

    I'm tired of these people telling me that I'm a nazi and a bigot because I don't support America bending over backwards to appease the demands of an ancient people that only understand violence and oppression as a means of getting what they want. I also am well aware that they are at war with us (a lot of them in a silent, infestation kind of war...demanding we change our ways to conform to them). 9/11 changed things muslims...you are the people that need to deal with it, not us. Feel free to move out of this country asap because it's only going to get worse. Islam is the reason there is no peace in this world and all you idiots that want to give muslims hugs and sloppy kisses and make them feel welcome need to realize this.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Lubna

      @SconnieGuz You definitely give the Nazis a run for their money with your comments. You sort of sound like Al Quaida with your talk of ALL Muslims being evil and responsible for what happened on 9/11. Extremists like yourself have no place in a country that grants freedom of life and liberty for all. Please wherever your ancestors came from go back there. Stop your hateful speeches you just give us Americans a bad name.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      I just know who my enemy is lubna....maybe you should go preach your love and caring whiny crybaby story on the streets of Iran or Somalia and see how long it takes for you and your family to get beheaded at the hands of some muslim. Go ahead and bury your head in the sand...hopefully your the victim of the next bomb that explodes while the bomber is saying something about Allah's Snackbar.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:13 pm |
  10. Understandingperson

    It is ignorant and intolerant people who cause problems, not Muslims. I know plenty of Muslims who are kind and humanitarian. It's a shame the rest of the American public can't follow their good example of how to be a decent human being.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • lee s

      youll be the first one killed lol. its people like you that extremists take advantage of to further their doctrine.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
  11. sonny trinh

    Go back home to your countries where you belongs you are animals.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • JOE DOE

      I agreed with you too. Get all muslim./islam people out of USA and moved back to Middle East where they belong. They screwed up the world!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • WallaWalla

      It is my sincere wish that both of you either have a change of heart and become informed (unlikely) or die in a painful way. Your hatred is holding the rest of us back. Again, Islam is not a nationality, it's a religion. You mean that you hate Arabs because you're stupid ignorant racists. Don't vote, don't even try to contribute to society, you and people who agree with you are completely worthless to the rest of us.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:10 pm |
    • Joe

      I'm German, Swedish, English, Lebanese, Native American, and probably other stuff. I was born in Minneapolis, MN so were my parents and grandparents, and get this, great grandparents. Where am I, as a Muslim supposed to go?

      March 7, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
  12. sonny trinh

    Muslims should not be in the western democratic countries from beginning anyhow. Who are the psycho genius let them come to this country anyway? They are not intergrated to society. Look it the way they dress and do things. They are animals.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  13. pritiblond

    People must be free to practice their religion IN PRIVATE. But we must never let America become like France where muslims are allowed to clog busy streets with thousands of worshippers (protestors) prostrating themselves with their butts in the air making a clever statement that Islam is the future of France. See http://downloads.cbn.com/cbnnewsplayer/cbnplayer.swf?aid=17933

    March 7, 2011 at 11:44 am |
  14. ladydi

    AMERICAN WILL BE "MUSLIMIZED" IN A MATTER OF A FEW YEARS – WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU PEOPLE THINKING????!!!!! MR KING – KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK !!!!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 11:43 am |
  15. arrow2fast

    the best proof that islam is a bad religion:
    show me ONE country in which islam is official religion AND where
    1) the country is prosperous
    2) the people are free
    3) the women are not abused en masse ( I am not talking about isolated cases)
    4) people can speak their mind, even if it criticizes and angers others...

    if you do, I will be not afraid so much of islamization of the world.
    but from what I see, starting with Pakistan and Afganistan and Azerbajdzan to most of muslim Africa –
    islam correlates with poverty and misery.
    Now, why is that?

    March 7, 2011 at 11:38 am |
    • IzWithStoopid

      Show me one Christian country that didn't go through the same cultural evolution.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:46 am |
    • sameeker

      Islam is not evolving, it is regressing. the lady with the sign in the picture tell it all. "muslimamerican". She puts the cause of islam before that of America. If they don't like hearings about all of the terrorists coming from their organization, then go live in Saudi Arabia. It should be brought up at the hearings that every islamic leader states that they will not quit until the United States is under sharia law. If I were president when they tried that, I would incinerate the Middle East before I let that happen to the American people.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • diffusser

      @Lubna
      omg really dubai, malaysia... go to these places and question islams validity..u will find yours self gettin stonned to death in a major intersection...

      March 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • cadecker

      to IzWithStoopid
      canada,finland,sweden,norway,iceland,etc...

      March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
    • WallaWalla

      Indonesia, the 3rd-most populous democracy in the world. Turkey. Probably some others I can't think of off the top of my head. You don't know anything about anything.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm |
    • Joe

      If Islam were regressing, which I hope it is, that would mean we are moving back to a time where Freedom of speech was allowed, freedom of religion, and economic equality. The truth is you are talking about dictators and repressive cultures, neither of which are supported by Islam no matter how they want to make it sound like it is. The truth is Islam has long been the religion of tolerance and only in recent century after European colonization has the culture set Islam back to the days before Islam.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • Sri

      I think Turkey. Btw, I am not a Muslim. And it is the people not the religion that has to be blamed. Quran, the sacred book for Muslims is as good as Bible to Christians and Gita to Hindus. But it is the preachers of it who amend it to their selfish needs. Try reading the contents of Quran as a novel with no expectations and you will find that it suggests so many good practices.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:57 pm |
  16. Peter E

    The Westboro Baptist Church is surely just an isolated case of right-wing Christian radicals. But if a muslim person runs a red-light and gets a ticket, surely that is because his radical religion dictated him to be a criminal and to hate our freedom loving street lights.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • Lubna

      @Arrow have you ever heard of Malaysia, Dubai, or Turkey? These countries have a majority Muslim population and are making finical gains separate religion from government. Their women are allowed to participate in government, vote, work and gain higher education. As far as NO incidents of abuse against women, I can't even find that to be true of the U.S.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:50 am |
    • Big Bob

      Wrong. If a cop ticketed a muslim, he would have to undergo mandatory sensitivity training. Then the town would be sued by CAIR.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
  17. irockOK

    I liked the non violent muslim religion as a wolf in sheeps clothing. They appear innocent enough at first. If I were king of the USA I would have them all pushed off the side of a cliff much like the scene from 300. We cannot afford to be passive with them or our country will be over run and our freedoms a thing of the past. I have absolutely no tolerance for them

    March 7, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • WallaWalla

      You want to kill all the Muslims in the United States to protect your freedoms. The cognitive dissonance to believe such a statement is absolutely amazing. You don't understand freedom, democracy, the Islamic faith, or apparently even human decency. Don't vote, please.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
    • Lubna

      Amazing that killers those that advocate the death of innocent people are allowed to vote. Please don't leave your trailer to vote. What a shame you are to everything America stands for. You'd think we'd learn from the crimes we committed against the Native Americans.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • SconnieGuz

      Walla Walla....quit trying to tell Americans that they need to learn more about the Islamic faith. I do not care to understand why you live your life like a slave to your imaginary friend and wear your underwear on your head. Anything that teaches what people in Iran, Somalia, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq...etc follow is not what needs to be taught in America. AMERICANS DON'T NEED UNDERSTAND A DAMN THING MORE ABOUT ISLAM THAN WHAT HAPPENED ON 9/11. Why don't you take that dumb underwear off your head, shave, loosen up with the praying 75 times a day and then maybe we can start having a rational, realistic dialogue about what is good for America...

      March 7, 2011 at 12:07 pm |
    • Kana

      @irockOK – than you also have to target all other radical religious and non-religious groups as there has been a steady increase in all of these as well.You can't just single out one.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:14 pm |
  18. Bill Jr.

    Read Shoebat, Spencer, and Gabriel, you fools.

    March 7, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • ProudToBeMuslim

      we are not fools, that's why we don't read fools.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • OldGoat

      anyone whose life is dictated by a bunch of smelly imans is a fool.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:04 pm |
    • Joe

      That's like saying read Hitler to learn about the Jewish faith. They know nothing about Islam and all of there arguments are easily refuted.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
  19. Limbaugh is a liberal

    There has been a rise in the number and activity of right-wing hate groups in the past decade. There has been a rise in the number of cases of harrassment against blacks, gays, hispanics, and anyone who isn't white, ango-saxon protestant.
    But surely we shouldn't investigate that. It is muslims who are a real threat, because them even just existing is too radical...

    March 7, 2011 at 11:29 am |
    • lee s

      you need to look at the big picture.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:55 am |
    • Sagebrush Shorty.

      Harassment against whites is also on the rise.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:59 am |
    • Big Bob

      Blacks and Hispanics mostly attack within their own commuities. And both groups just LOVE to harass gays.

      NEXT!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
    • OldGoat

      But surely we shouldn't investigate that. It is muslims who are a real threat, because them even just existing is too radical...

      I don't recall any white folks flying any airliners into the World Trade Center of the Pentagon. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Muslims seem to be responsible for the majority of terrorist attacks these days.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Cole

      You must be joking! There has been a raise in the number of incidents against whites. I know you get your facts from the liberal playbook but if you compare the two, whites are victimized by other racial groups at a staggering rate.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • Joe

      OldGoat, I'm pretty sure not too long ago someone flew a plan into the IRS because he didn't want to pay taxes. He was White, and not a Muslim.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm |
  20. rivirivi

    And no, yoga is not a cult, Yoga is just breathing and stretching exercises which are good for your whole body. Anyone who believes that it is a cult or that the devil -namely Satan, will come and take your body while you are relaxing and learning how to stretch your bones and muscles and breathing is a total fool. No such thing will ever happen. How come some people be so adamant to say they love a limitless God Creator, then hate everyone else or everything else which exist to help us. How do all the so called "sacred" books make the same mistake and teach stupid groups of humans the other stupid group of humans is worthless – all the while saying you love your Creator. Humanity is full of dumbs!

    March 7, 2011 at 11:26 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.