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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. Jay

    I have a job (probably better than 99% of you punks on here that insist people who have time to protest dont have jobs... try doing your civic duty and going out for something you believe in rather than living in your mothers basement and commenting to blogs...) and I was there to bear witness as an AMERICAN that Muslims are just as much a part of the fabric of America as anyone else. History shows us that marginalizing a sect of society and making them feel alienated is never a wise way to deal with assimilating them.

    Today... I too am a Muslim...

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

      "Jay" – How noble of you. I wonder if you would be so magnanimous in your views of these Muslim terrorists if they blew up a building with one of your children it it. To solve a problem and prevent a terrorist attack from occurring on our soil, it is necessary to look to the group of people from whom these radicals come. How ANY Muslim who truly loves his country, the USA, could protest against these hearings is beyond me. Just a guess here, but I doubt you'll find the next Muslim terrorist in a Jewish or Christian church! Let's use some common sense before political correctness destroys this great country!!! We need MORE congressmen like Peter King who aren't afraid to call a spade a spade and who will do what it takes to PROTECT THIS COUNTRY, the MOST important job of government. Thank you Chairman King!

      March 6, 2011 at 9:01 pm |
  2. Thumb

    In this country we are supposed to hold the hold the individual responsible for their actions. That is why there is still the KKK, Arian nation, and all sorts of hate groups allowed to exist. That being said, should every Christian church have to come out and denounce Westboro Babtist Church because they're out calling for more dead American soldiers, or should every Atheist have to denounce these gang/drug killings that happen everyday in our country. I think not! These are actions of individuals and should be treated as such. Otherwise we as Americans (especially white euro/americans) have a lot of apologizing to do for stuff that I personally find sickening. We were supposed to be founded on the Christian principles of Love an Tolerance, yeah right that's a joke. We all really need to get over our selves.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • SadieSadie

      @Thumb:
      'We were supposed to be founded on the Christian principles of Love an Tolerance.'

      I wish we were but the atheists have fought so hard to take God out of America that now we are based in the 'principal of self first' as the atheists want.
      Don't blame America on Christianity instead blame it on the self involved atheistic lefties that care more about animals than they do with their fellow Americans. Bravo!

      March 6, 2011 at 8:52 pm |
    • Thumb

      it's also that the supposed Christians don't know the meaning of the words Love an Tolerance, if you don't believe the same way they do your cast out.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:05 pm |
  3. Edward

    I agree. It is a crying shame that these hearings are necessary.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:34 pm |
  4. julie

    i dont know if any body can answer this question but here it goes WIILL OUR GENERATION DEVELOP A GREATER INTEREST IN DOMOCRACY AND GOVERNMENT BECAUSE THE PUSH FOR THE DEMOCRACY IN THE MID- EAST ESPECIALLY BY YOUNG PEOPLE ?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  5. Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

    This hearing is just Rep. King being a media w-hore, whooping up the yokels, chumming up their sniveling fears and whipping up their bigotries. Gee, I wonder if King's inflaming of right-wing fringe-kooks has anything to do with his 2012 senatorial ambitions?

    Sharia creeping into America? Try taking your anti-paranoia pills more regularly.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Enough

      Let's see, can we count the attacks?

      w-hore,
      yokels
      chumming
      sniveling fears
      whipping bigotries
      inflaming
      right-wing
      fringe-kooks
      Sharia creeping
      your anti-paranoia pills

      Tell you what, Al. Since you like attacks, here's one you can appreciate:

      Sink your teeth into my ass. Bite down hard. Then chew me. And when the shi1 starts to fly, we'll be looking for wipes like you. No problemo. Easy fix.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:25 pm |
    • Al Bluengreenenbrownenburger

      Struck a nerve, did I? You don't like hearing that you are being exploited by a politician to further his career? You don't like knowing that your anger is intentionally inflamed by King (and Limbaugh and all the rest) to get you to obey them? You don't want to know that these hearings have no chance of uncovering any terrorist activity, and would not have uncovered 9/11 or anything else?

      You are far, far more likely to win the lottery than you are to to die of Islamic terrorism.

      Here is a quote by Mencken that reveals what King is up to: "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary."

      March 6, 2011 at 10:46 pm |
  6. HistoryHistory

    Flaming McCarthyism. We should be ashamed, and we will be, in about 20 years. We'll look back and say,"Ho, boy, can you believe they did that back then?? HA!". Like Americans always do when we get over the latest scare.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
  7. Al

    Xugos –
    I can not compliment you enough. Why don't these women instead of do what they do not even know but take their children to soccer practice, swimming and all other family activities. And all Arabs please stop blame Israel for all problems. Israel build oasis in the desert land and it took them only 60 years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:28 pm |
  8. Lex

    The KKK was created by white southern men who did not like black men having equality, it had absolutely nothing to do with christianity because almost all of them were conservative southern baptists.
    Still looking back we regret not standing up to them (our so called fellow americans) lets not make the same mistake twice. There ARE al-Queda hidden in the states and you are an idiot for thinking that there aren't. Sorry if they suspect that you are one of them, but they are just trying to find them before they try to blow up something else we love.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:25 pm |
  9. BhuddaPatudda

    I really wanted to give islam a fair shake so I started studying. Of course if you read the old testament you get a pretty ugly view of christianity. On the other hand if you read the gospels you get a glimpse of a pretty peaceful philosophy. I know that there are passages in the koran that preach peace and inclusion and those that preach violent jihad. So I decided to focus on history books instead of “sacred texts.” By the time I got a couple of hundred years into muslim history there had been so many patricides and murderers and violent overthrows and conquests I couldn’t even keep track, so I just gave up. In spite of what muslims say about themselves history doesn’t support the stand that it is a peaceful religion. That and the facts that it is basically impossible to find a muslim country without severe repression of human rights (especially those of women) and the fact that I seldom seem to hear muslim leaders denounce violent acts by extremist (on the contrary) has led me to the conclusion that this religion is not conducive to peaceful coexistence in a multicultural society.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:24 pm |
    • Al

      thumb up!

      March 6, 2011 at 8:31 pm |
    • Dhimmitude

      Good that you studied up. Keep studying, read Robert Spencer fact-based treatises on Islam.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:18 pm |
  10. Paul

    MM..you're nothing more than a narrow minded,self centered, egotistic bigot. Burn in hell you asswhipe.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:21 pm |
  11. HistoryHistory

    This is what people do in America when they're not pleased with something. Let it all out. Their protests have just as much legitimacy as the union protests or the freak Baptist protesters or anti-war protesters, or any other protesters. It's their right, and they're exercising their Amercian rights. GOOD FOR THEM!!!!!!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:20 pm |
  12. alan2

    Of course they protest, to divert attention AWAY from the fact that most Muslims support (or at least sympathize) with Muslim Extremists and favor Sharia. We better conduct these hearings and get to the truth!!

    March 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  13. NOSHARIA

    Peter King is probably the voice in the wilderness screaming out that we will become Europe and we will suffer at the hands of creeping sharia and stealth jihad. We praise his courage and guts to stand there in the midst of wacked out PC suicidals and try to save us. One day these supporters will learn the truth but it will be too late for us all. TAKIYAH,fools.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:13 pm |
  14. razor

    if they are not radical why should they care?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:10 pm |
    • MrEee

      Why aren't they protesting this California case where the Pakistani step-dad and (unstable) mother were apparently planning on taking the mother's 13 year old daughter to Pakistan for a forced marriage? Oh, because that's cool, she's over 8 years old.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
  15. ben

    What a JOKEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

    March 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  16. Burned

    If they had jobs they wouldn't be marching in the streets, they'd be happy worker-bees. It's time those corrupt politicians quit taking bribes and try something totally radical, like being honest and ethical for once in their lives.
    Doesn't sound too likely, does it?

    March 6, 2011 at 8:05 pm |
  17. Brian

    "Are KKK representation of all Chirstianity? "..........

    You might be surprised who those people are if they take off their masks and robes. The KKK has included doctors and congressmen.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:04 pm |
    • bryan swicicki

      your right great point!....75 years ago the Klan was a big deal. Until the feds went after them...I bet they even had hearings about it

      Nowadays the most relevant threat comes from islam.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
  18. Sagebrush Shorty.

    It's about time that hearings were held . The Muslim protesters get no sympathy from me. Why don't they ever protest the actions of Radical Islam? Silence amounts to tacit approval. I guess the Imams decide when to protest and when to be silent. Too bad Islam, you brought it on yourselves, so quit whining.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • PasadenaGuy

      I'm just curious again. Where were the Christian protests over the "ethnic cleansing" in Serbia back in the 90's? Where is the organized indignation of the Christain church over the obscene rantings of Fred Phelps and the "Westboro Baptist Church" ?

      Christ enumerated 2 "great" commandments. First - love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, with all thy sould and with all thy mind. Second - Love thy neighbor as thyself. That second one seems to have gotten lost somewhere.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Al

      PasadenaGuy –
      Do you know what are you talking about? USA bombed Belgrad(Serbia). Bosnians are preying for America.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • SadieSadie

      @PasadenaGuy
      I don't know where you have been but Christians have been speaking out about Phelps. We have been condeming what he is doing in all ways.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:37 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      and to add – WBC seeks notoriety. They feed on attention, good or bad, so there's a concerted effort to deny them this attention in order to defuse their agenda. Besides, they just wave signs.

      They don't set off bombs.

      March 6, 2011 at 9:15 pm |
  19. David M.

    On the other side of this coin is the hatred spewed from that so-called Baptist church in the midwest. As a Christian I have to say they are an embarassment to the country and to Christianity. I defy them to prove from scripture anything that supports their position. They will not do that because they can't. What is almost as disgusting as what they are doing, is what the Church at large is not doing. No one is coming out and saying these people do not represent Christianity. They represent themselves, and that's all.

    Just because you claim to do something in "God's name" does not mean God sanctions it. Believe me, these people are as radical as many Muslims. And I for one will say to anyone who will listen that these people are a bunch of zealots who have no understanding of the Bible and do not speak for the rest of Christianity. I said in another post that it is quite likely they will stand before God one day and try to list all the things they did in "His Name". All they will hear is "depart from me you workers of iniquity. I never knew you".

    March 6, 2011 at 8:01 pm |
    • SadieSadie

      As a Christian (Baptist Christian at that) I have to say that I am disgusted by your judging ways. How dare you do God's work and judge Christians just because you don't agree with something they believe in. Do you think that people who judge will be treated better by God than those that you don't agree with????

      March 6, 2011 at 8:33 pm |
    • John

      David, you totally agree with your words. Sadly lots of people don't think.... and I don't consider myself very smart! Your post is the one that makes sense and shows no hate. Thanks

      March 6, 2011 at 8:35 pm |
    • John

      Sorry.. I should have said " I totally agree with your words"

      March 6, 2011 at 8:36 pm |
    • Moodgirl

      Has any noticed that members of the Westboro Baptist Church protest against gays but never show up at a gay rally to wave signs and act like idiots? It is because they know at funerals they are safe from having their butts kicked. I have a problem with the supreme court giving nuts permission to protest at private ceremonies. Funerals – 99% – are private.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:33 am |
  20. mm

    How is it that these people don't come out and protest like this when their Muslim people commit crimes against humanity! These people are just a bunch of hypocrites. They only have a voice when it's something that affects them. But when radicals are murdering the infidels, they sit quite and say nothing. When they start coming out against their radicals Islam people, then I'll have respect for them. Until then, I have no sympathy.

    March 6, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
    • Xugos

      I'm a Muslim, and I'm all for these "hearings" if they help in removing any public fear of Muslims in general. The people who are protesting in NYC are the fringe of the Muslim community because most of us have jobs and other things that are better than protesting to do.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • nn

      Where are all the christians protesting the horrible things other christians are doing around the world? There are hypocrites amongst all faiths.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
    • Al

      thanks Xugos. You are a truly American. The rest are probably on the government subsidy(ObamaCare).

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

      I'm an Italian American and didn't take to the streets when mob gangsters killed people, stole cargo off docks and airline terminals or ran gambling rings. They don't need to protest acts by Muslims, but they do have to have some way to take part in a community wide discussion about how to spot the bad guys in their midst.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Al

      nn –
      I hope you do not live between us, if yes there is no room for you in US. If you do, why are you here? I definitely do not want to have you as mu neighboor.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:17 pm |
    • Paul

      I'm suprised King doesn't hold hearings on the radicalization of jews. OH that's right, they're above the law.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
    • American Citizen

      nn = can you please elaborate with specifics about Christian doing horrible things around the world? I would like to know what it is you are citing so i can reason an answer. Thank you.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:29 pm |
    • Dan Patel

      I totaly agree with you.

      March 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm |
    • NB

      @Paul – When is the last time a Jew perpetrated a suicide bombing?

      March 6, 2011 at 8:49 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.