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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. wyciwyg

    moderate "american muslims" need to show where they stand: IF truly assimilated AMERICANs, they need to loudly and consistently condemn extremists, disassociate themselves completely and publicly. iF necessary american-muslims need to actively-aggressively fight against extremists and their govts.

    The passive, silent stance I see from "muslim americans" tells me a) it's OK w/them if radicals continue to kill non-muslims worldwide; b) they believe and suscribe to Koran's ideology in all its extremism OVER any allegiance to USA or other countries; their covert intent and mission is to subjugate all ppl to ISLAM by any means at hand. Taking over a non-muslim country bit by bit - consessions by by gutless appeasers within the govt – is as much a threat to Christianity and other religions, and Western civilization, as is overt bloody terrorism. One is just sneakier and - sadly - smarter strategy-wise, and harder to combat.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:59 pm |
    • Al

      Could not agree more. They have to do it. It will display they are on the same page with all of us. Otherwise, they have a double life and "cannot wait to go down with US"

      March 6, 2011 at 8:11 pm |
    • Sam

      Well said, couldn't agree more.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  2. Forreal89

    Stop complaining go home

    March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
  3. Forreal89

    Those pictures make me sick go home arrogant pushy violators

    March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • WallaWalla

      I hate you and everyone who thinks like you. You are the worst part of America personified. People like you have kept hate alive through the centuries.

      Don't vote. Don't leave your house. Don't do anything to drag the rest of us down. "Go home"? Islam is a transnational religion, it has no home. You mean to direct your hate at Arabs, because you're a racist, but you can't even get the difference between a nationality and a religion straight. You are the worst.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  4. Mr. Sniffles

    Can we have hearings on Rep. King's staunch, long-term support of the IRA, a terrorist organization? Peter King said this: “

    We must pledge ourselves to support those brave men and women who this very moment are carrying forth the struggle against British imperialism in the streets of Belfast and Derry.”

    Change the word "British" to "American" and the city names from "Belfast" and "Derry" to "New York" and "Kabul", and you have something Bin Laden would say.

    King is in support of terrorism, as long as it's Irish and not Islamic.

    What a pig!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      @ Sniffs

      Untrue. Here's the full picture.

      http://www.nysun.com/national/rep-king-and-the-ira-the-end-of-an-extraordinary/15853/

      March 6, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
  5. Al

    What about anyone from these protesters who think they are Americans, would someone say loudly that "we were wrong!" to kill, to hate. And, damn it, it is 21st century modify yourself and follow civilized world.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
    • David M.

      It goes against their religion to say they were wrong! Should they do it? Absolutely. Will any of them do it? Absolutely not.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:55 pm |
    • Dana

      Why would they say "WE" were wrong, when none of them were the ones who killed or hated. Your problem is that you lump 1.5 billion people into a single-minded category because you lack the education to know the difference between Sunni and Wahhabi. It's like not knowing the difference between Protestant and Branch Davidian. This kind of ignorance is exactly what these protesters are referring to.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:43 pm |
  6. mellew

    The Muslim community seems different in that it is more insular than other ethnicities that have come to this country. Because of the strict constraints of the religion, it will be harder for this group to fully integrate. Within the community all suffer the subjigation that the radicals bring to bear. I understand and believe that everyone in the community has the right and obligation to practice their religion freely. What I don't understand is the role of the madrasses in the United States. This, to me, is the core of radicalism, where very young people are taught to hate and taught to fight...why do these schools exist in this country, if not to radicalize youth? I don't think it takes a rocket scientist or congressional hearings to find the roots of the radical movement in this country. The ranting imams are no more threatening than ranting Rev. Wright, people can listen or they can ignore those rants, but I worry worry worry about the children.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
  7. brown

    Americans ... your government has been on auto-pilot since the 1950's. You failed to nurture your so called democracy, now
    it is time for you to take your medicine.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  8. Jones

    Those headscarves look terrible. Wearing them, the women look like uncut wangs

    March 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
  9. richard

    this is not the time for protest's it will do nothing but be seen as and atempt cause violance aand do more harm then good.
    Far those of you that tink i'm muslim i am not i am baptist but i know human nature .Just look at james's coment if you dont belive me he is a raceist .Pepole like him need to feel like they are somebody and the only way to do it is to al ways look to the dark side of the cloud. (and iwas in the armed forces for 15 years )

    March 6, 2011 at 7:47 pm |
  10. al

    i am not a muslim. And do not even think I could be. Does any one of them stepped up and denounce 9/11? If yes, please, begging please name anyone. What about bombing of innocent people on buses, subways, airplanes...etc.. Losers!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • Hana

      Yes, the Muslim councils in many of the middle Eastern Countries came out and denounced the act as cowrdly and actually unislamic. Islam actually preaches against killing of innocent and anywords, even in the old and new testments can be taken out of context and translated to intice hatred and violence just like the 9/11 attackers did with the Quran. Unfortunately cowrds always need to validate their points by using religious texts. look at what Hitler did, he used the bible to justify his horrible acts.. I

      March 6, 2011 at 8:49 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      "Islam actually preaches against killing of innocent"

      "innocent" = MUSLIMS. Not infidels. Yet another convenient 'interpretation' of the wonderful Koran. Seems you can make it say anything you need it to – with a little poetic license.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
    • Lee

      O, I see...unfortunately you don't. Christians, jew, muslims have lived in relative peace in the middle east for centuries. In many ways it's the U.S. policies in the middle east that is creating a lot of this radicalization, from our unwavering support of Israel, even when Israel steals land from it's arab neighbors to our support for dictators who brutalize, kidnap, torture and kill their own citizens. Learn some history, then maybe you will, in fact, see.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
    • Hana

      Oh I see......In Islam, Jews and Christians are called people of the book. Muslims marry from them and raise their kids, it doesnot make sense for a religion that allows such important human interaction to consider them infidels!!! I guess my poetic licence to translate the Quran might be actually a true understanding as oppossed to your sad one.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      @ Lee

      "lived in relative peace"

      Relative. Great word. Very – utilitarian. Good for you.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:56 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      @ Hana

      Yet another 'translation' of the Koran. This one's pretty entertaining.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:57 pm |
    • WallaWalla

      I know you don't watch or read the news, but don't expect us to do it for you. After 9/11 there were marches all across the Middle East that expressed solidarity with the Americans, including thousands marching in the streets of Tehran. But yeah, continue to live under a rock if that's what makes you comfortable.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
  11. Christopher

    Ok so they protested. And? So what.

    Islam is a violent and oppresive cult which should be forced back to the barbaric desert where it came from. I don't see Christians slaughtering innocents in the name of christianity every day, I see Muslims doing that. I don't see christians stoning people to death for infidelity, I see Muslims doing that. I don't see Christians cutting peoples thumbs, hands and even feet off for petty theft, I see muslims doing that. I don't see christians forcing women to unnaturally cover their entire bodies.
    I see Muslims doing that.

    Islam is evil and there is absolutely no excuse to tolerate it.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • diamondback

      Oh so really there were no colonialists (really christian terrorists) pillaging the Muslim lands stealing gold, oil, raping little girls. Have you read Deutronomy lately. Look beyond 911 a little further down history you moron. And another line that keeps bothering me, "lets not depend on foreign oil" well if you dont want depend on it why the heck are you in those countries.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:03 pm |
    • Hana

      You obviously have not read any history, Oh sorry, your bloody history against the Natives and the Catholics as well as Europe's spanish inquisitions doesn't count. Oh, add to that the crusades and the slaughter of Christians,( forget the muslims) in the middle East simply because they looked different, middle eastern, duh!!. Do you ever read or do you only get your information from late night radical Christian preaching shows. A little bit of reading, Start with your bible, will help.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:39 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      @ Hana

      I think the key word here is 'history', as something that was 'in the past.' But it's all over now. At least for us. But apparently not for you. History lives! Bad, horrible, hateful America. What an evil place. What yucky people. Run away! Run fast! You don't want to live here!

      March 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Hana

      @ oh I see
      If you read history , you might actually learn a thing ot two. History does repeat itself. Have a good night

      March 6, 2011 at 10:00 pm |
  12. David M.

    "the hearings unfairly target Islam". Really? So just who is it that seems to support and become terrorists? It's the nation of Islam. It was Muslims who blew up the world trade center, crashed two planes in to it, attacked embassies, attacked nightclubs, crashed a plane in to the Pentagon, and probably had the intention of crashing a plane in to the white house or the capital building.

    Sorry folks, but if the Muslims would stand up against this kind of nonsense, like what happened in Germany this week, you would not be viewed as anti-American and pro-terrorists. Until you do, you have no right to complain about these "hearings". I did not see one Muslim speak out against killing those two airmen in Germany. Yet you feel you are being unfairly targeted. No sympathy here.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
    • wyciwyg

      agreed. to be an AMERIAN is to embrace all aspects of our culture which include allowng women freedom of education, movement and choices.
      WE DO NOT subscribe to 8th century barbarity like honor killings, beheadings of WOMEN -only for unsubstantiated accusations of adultry, cutting off hands-feet for petty crimes, stonings of WOMEN ONLY for other perceived but unproven infractions of Islamic aka sharia "law."
      YEs we– all societies worldwide - have our own brand of monsters abusing victims daily, but they do so for a myriad of "reasons".. not the unified excuse of " the Koran says so!" THAT

      March 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
    • wyciwyg

      agreed. to be an AMERIAN is to embrace all aspects of our culture which include allowng women freedom of education, movement and choices.
      WE DO NOT subscribe to 8th century barbarity like honor killings, beheadings of WOMEN -only for unsubstantiated accusations of adultry, cutting off hands-feet for petty crimes, stonings of WOMEN ONLY for other perceived but unproven infractions of Islamic aka sharia "law."
      YEs we– all societies worldwide - have our own brand of monsters abusing victims daily, but they do so for a myriad of "reasons".. not the unified excuse of " the Koran says so!" THAT is what is soo terrifying to me. the non-reasoning knee-jerk willingness to abuse and kill others without any pause or intelligent consideration.

      8th century barbarianism vs 21st century evolution.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:16 pm |
    • Dana

      That's great... Now if we can only get the Christians on board with 21st century science instead of 4th century mythology.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
    • BS

      What do you think would happen to Arabs if we stopped buying oil? I think they would starve.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:22 pm |
  13. phil

    A rival, much smaller protest supporting the hearings gathered briefly near the rally.

    I wonder if the smaller rally was the protest against the hearings, CNN would have covered it differently. Ho horendous.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  14. dj

    The word Homeland is creepy. It reeks of the language used by both Hitler and Stalin. As for the hearings they bring to mind a poem written by Martin Niemoller....First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out -
    Because I was not a Socialist.
    Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out -
    Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
    Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out -
    Because I was not a Jew.
    Then they came for me - and there was no one left to speak for me.

    there are many versions of this poem as he spoke it many times (interesting he started out as a conservative/nazi party member

    March 6, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
    • BS

      The guy explained they were looking into the extremist factions. Just like Waco and McVeigh. Muslims have this uncanny way of getting into societies and then asking for their laws to supersede the law of the land. Do a quick study of what they are doing to England. Mexicans who refuse to learn English are no better.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
  15. suresh

    Alex in NJ, I can't agree with you more. you a spot on.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
  16. jamesr1976

    Wow, how different the protests look in the US, so many women on the streets. Oh that's right, Muslim women actually have rights in America. Stand strong Congressman King.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • JD

      Except to be automatically suspected of being terrorists due to their being Muslim . . .

      March 6, 2011 at 7:49 pm |
    • jamesr1976

      And they have their Muslim brothers to thank for that. Hard to know which are radicals and which are not.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
    • WallaWalla

      It's easy: They're all not radicals unless proved otherwise, just like everybody else. Tim McVeigh doesn't make all christians radicals, so a few dudes with planes don't make all muslims radical.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  17. jackson

    Islam has no place in the modern world, let alone America. Why would Islam want a place in a free society that says all faiths are allowed to worship, that religion and government are separate and that women are equal to men. Oh yeah, I guess they'd like to wreck it in the name of their false religion like they've done elsewhere.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • shagadalic

      Are KKK representation of all Chirstianity? I do think america is the land of the fear home of the poor narrow minded people.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:50 pm |
    • ComeOn

      Why would Christianity want a place in a free society that says all faiths are allowed to worship, that religion and government are separate and that women are equal to men?

      Probably for the same reason that Islam would. Because most people in the religion are good, kind-hearted people. Then there are the extremists in their respective religion who would push their view of the world on all those around them.

      March 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • josephus

      well said

      March 6, 2011 at 9:03 pm |
  18. BDub

    I will support this as soon as Congress holds hearings on the Christianists who self-radicalize within the Christian community, organizing with the intent of terrorizing and murdering doctors.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:43 pm |
    • BS

      Really? Last time i checked they send SWAT teams and skip hearings...

      March 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
  19. TheRationale

    Religions are such a waste of time. Now instead of trying to fix things like education and the economy we're blowing time on picking out whose imaginary friends are and are not acceptable to play with.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • anythingGos

      You aren't that rational, TheRational, do you? If you would, then you'll understand that dispute your personal view on this subject, the "imaginary friend", as you're saying, influence a lot of people in a lot of different way, and this influence is real and is tangible any hard goods, you can buy in a store, and as economy and education (maybe even more in some cases). All this has nothing to do with question question of God existence (witch even in theory can't be proven ETHER way, and always was and always be the matter of Faith).

      March 6, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
    • Lex

      @anythingGos Yeah...just like how the al-Queda's "GOD" influences them to kill everything and everyone we love. Read a history book, almost every war in the world was about religion. If religion is supposed to be a good thing, tell me why is it that it always leads to bloodshed?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
    • TheRationale

      @AnythingGos

      No I'm pretty sure I'm rational
      You can't prove the existence of Vishnu or Santa Clause or ghosts or phantoms either way. Until you prove it exists, you're wasting your time believing otherwise. It's called the burden of proof. Since nobody's produced any shred of good evidence since each of these religions has been created, I'm not too worried about that issue. However, that wasn't the point of my post at all.

      I'm commenting because it's insane that this world still has to waste time dealing with matters like this. Instead of focusing the state's time on actual issues like the ones I've mentioned, it's being wasted on making sure the kiddies and their imaginary friends play nice in the sandbox.

      Your post wasn't entirely coherent, although I hope this clarifies whatever questions you had.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:31 pm |
    • BS

      "Religion is the opium of the people" is one of the most frequently paraphrased statements of Karl Marx. – AMEN

      March 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
  20. Alex in NJ

    Personally I don't really see the point of these proceedings. They are probably a waste of time. However, the larger debate on Islam in America is worth having.
    We can't hide from the fact that Islamic terrorism does exist and is a serious problem, anymore than we could pretend like Timothy McVeigh wasn't part of a ultra right wing terrorist movement.
    If I were a Muslim I wouldn't be protesting Congressman King. I'd be out protesting the extremism that has painted Islam in such a bad light.

    March 6, 2011 at 7:37 pm |
    • Mark

      uh – might I ask who was Tim McVeigh No. 2 ? Anyone? Buehler? Buehler?

      March 6, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • BS

      @Mark... you must be real young to ask who Timmy was... He was executed for bombing a federal bulding in OK.

      The Oklahoma City bombing was a bomb attack on the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995. It was the most destructive act of terrorism on American soil until the September 11, 2001 attacks. The Oklahoma blast claimed 168 lives, including 19 children under the age of 6,[1] and injured more than 680 people.[2] The blast destroyed or damaged 324 buildings within a sixteen-block radius, destroyed or burned 86 cars, and shattered glass in 258 nearby buildings.[3][4] The bomb was estimated to have caused at least $652 million worth of damage.[5] Extensive rescue efforts were undertaken by local, state, federal, and worldwide agencies in the wake of the bombing, and substantial donations were received from across the country. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) activated eleven of its Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces, consisting of 665 rescue workers who assisted in rescue and recovery operations.[6][7]

      March 6, 2011 at 10:27 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.