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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. derp

    "I am muslim, too"

    Ni kidding, the headscarf and smock were a dead giveaway.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:17 pm |
  2. wstevens

    Most Muslims aren't terrorists, but most terrorists are Muslim. We need to stop ignoring the problem, or else radical Muslims will never cease their attacks in or out of this country as they have been doing for decades.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:07 pm |
  3. Rick

    No more. I have heard this "peaceful islam" nonsense far too much. The actions of the "minority radicals" is far too common. I have a running count of hostile actions by the various types of radicals around the world. I have too many to count under the Islam column, but only a few tick marks in some of the others.

    Islam is a threat to the world, and the quicker it is eliminated, the better.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
  4. Jabli Izvesti

    Moderate Muslims must condemn the jihadists in categorical terms.Till then people ofthe other faiths will continue to have their own doubts despite the labored political correctness and semantic sophistry of the politicians.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
  5. Pastor Evans

    Thank the Lord Jesus Christ, finally a political leader who will stand against this demonic crap!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
  6. arab beauty

    GET USE TO THIS WORLD WHITE PEOPLE ARABS AND MUSLIMS ARE HERE TO STAY!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:57 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      Go live with all your fellow brothers and sisters in retardland then and don't drag your religious nonsense into the free world!!

      March 7, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  7. Pastor Evans

    Stop this evil force by any and all means now or our children and grandchildren will have to deal with it later...So let's do whatever is necessary!!!

    Pastor and Retired U.S. Army!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm |
  8. arab beauty

    not all Arabs are Muslim, not all Muslims are Arabs, AND PLEASE DON'T CALL US ARABS WHITE! WE ARE NOT WHITE! THAT IS AN INSULT! WE LOVE OUR BROWN SKIN!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  9. Pastor Evans

    This is a spiritual problem globally as we all clearly see and political leaders globally don't have any answers for it.
    The only way to truely defeat the enemy is through spiritual warfare, and not just by passing some natural laws or legislation.

    Man of God!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:53 pm |
  10. SpayNeuter

    Bu****it these people are all liars If they had just once protested a terrorist act like they are protesting now I would give them the benefit of the doubt. However, whenever there are killings, terror, etc. they remain silent and say we're just moderate Muslims. I don't believe them. Walk your talk or smart people are going to see you for who you are a bunch of
    radicals who expect the laws to be changed for them and their sick religion/laws.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  11. Captain_Colossal

    if muslims were a majority over here, whites and christians wouldn't be treated NEARLY as civilly as muslims are currently treated. our women would be beaten and passed around. the rest of us would likely be treated as chattel

    March 7, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
  12. gus

    world war three will be between Muslims and the rest of us /// every where they live there is problems if u dont believe what they do// and then they think they go to heaven if they kill u /// they will be surprised when they wake up in HELL

    March 7, 2011 at 1:44 pm |
  13. herrsonic

    racism

    March 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
  14. Kimberly

    Oh! Now they come out in numbers.....when they feel mistreated? Where were all these people when we needed them to protest against terrorism? Unbelievable. Wake up America!!!!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  15. hoofleau

    Again I say that Islam is not a religion, it is a cult that practices punishment and bloodshed. Believe in a higher power as you look at the stars at night, but don't base your religion on dead prophets. Religion is all theory based on books written by humans. Religion is an opiate that make the cavemen on this planet feel secure.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
  16. Anthony

    Stop hating the the religion and start hating the person who committed these acts. The only reason why Muslims are hated is because they are identified through clothing, mannerism and unfortunately race since most are from "Dark" countries.

    The person who killed the airman was from the Serbia area who is White. Put aside your bigotry and hate and realize that you are not fighting a color or religion, but a few who take matters in extremism.

    If ALL Muslims thought in this manner you would have over 1 Billion people knocking on our doostep with bombs! Is this what you are advocating?

    March 7, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • Z

      well said !!

      March 7, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • SconnieGuz

      If the earth didn't have the 1 billion muslims nobody would have to worry about any it! Get them out of here now

      March 7, 2011 at 1:54 pm |
  17. cajr

    those in the muslim communities know who the extremists are. they know the hate the imams are spewing but do they report this to the FBI? no. if they were so concerned they would oust these people from their communities and country. but muslims have proven time and time again that they have a deeper sense of responsibility towards their religion and fellow muslims than their fellow americans or thier safety. they will not turn on them for any reason. until they do, don't look to others in this country to protect you or take your side. prove your loyalty and out these treacherous killer and maybe, just maybe people other than muslims will support your cause.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  18. ART

    Peter King is a bigot

    March 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
  19. Ezequiel Ochoa

    sorry but how we separate islam from terrorist tell me how,,,, ISLAM= dead, killings, destruccion, dead to all non belivers, dead by stonning, women has allmost no rights, beheadings,suicide bombings, what religion is this???????...... ISLAM

    March 7, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • Z

      hi Ezequiel Ochoa,
      Please answer just one question: have you personal met or known a Muslim that practices or believes in the list you just mentioned? or is this based on everything you heard or read.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:41 pm |
    • Ruthie

      Have you not been following the news at all? The real news? The egyptian revolution, and the uprising going on in the Arab world, are fueled by a large percentage of muslims, fighting for peace, safety, basic human rights for all, universal values.

      Your idea of who a muslim is or what a muslim is like, is why a protest like this in NY takes place.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
  20. jayb

    what about white america....Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols , unibomber? last time i checked it was white people who assassinated presidents??? we should call a haring on white people!!

    March 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • FFFF

      HEy D-bad neither one of these men did what they did in the name of God.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • FFFF

      D-bag

      March 7, 2011 at 1:11 pm |
    • jayb

      FFFFF – oh ya they did it for $$$ or other personal motives so i guess that makes it ok....oh and the KKK is a terrorist group with religious beliefs that their better then anyone else and they should hang every black person on earth...is that not terrorism??? how many people have the KKK killed in America since they formed?? im sure plenty

      March 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • jayb

      ffffruit bag – we can thank whit people for killing possibly 2 of the greatest presons and presidents, A. Lincoln and JFK...and many more

      March 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Troy

      What white people? Irish ? russian? or what? you don't be specific. muslim arabs and white people are causasians also. blacks can be terrorists like nigerian bomber flying into detroit eh?

      March 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • jayb

      Troy your right, but come on, you really think there is no racial profiling going on with this radicalization of Islam/Muslims? and if not then hey, let profile every race who has done wrong and hold hearings for them. whites for possibly being KKK, asians for being dog eaters, blacks for being thugs, latinos for being illegals, irish for probablly being drunk while driving...list goes on...leave the Muslims alone, CIA/FBI alone should be smart enough to figure who is a terrorist and not...they better be with all the TAX im paying!

      March 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • norcalmojo

      If you're really afraid of Christian extremists, by all means, email your rep and ask him to call some hearings. I don't think you'd see anyone protesting. They're only hearings to find the truth and the truth is nothing to hide from.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Anonymous

      Not all Muslims are terrorists but MOST terrorists are Muslim. It is a dangerous religion and therefore should be treated as such. I wish all of these Muslims who protest any such comments against their beliefts would be more passionate and more active against those terrorists who supposedly act on their behalf! I for one am tired of it and they need to do more as a community and direct their displeasure to their homelands!

      March 7, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • jayb

      why im a Christian?? im not the ones profiling the Muslims as terrorist...but i do feel for them, at least for the peaceful ones. And i dont do any dealings with extremist christians, i let the gov. take care of them as they should, but if someone ever did hold hearings on Christians, you bet even some Muslims would feel for us.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • gus

      The majority of Muslims are radical and lie about everything because we are infildels

      March 7, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • arab beauty

      i totally agree!

      March 7, 2011 at 1:50 pm |
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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.