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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. Doc

    So stupid! Yeah, I have been worried about those Methodist Extremist, heard them planning America's downfall! Right, you stupid people: "They wouldn't attack if we'd just talk nice to them" BS, read the book! There is no middle ground, and if there was the Muslims in America would be denouncing violence, denouncing the radicals, but, they are not, because they know, as does Obama, as Muslims they cannot denounce, degrade, or fight another Muslim.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  2. John

    Representative King, a former fundraiser for terrorists himself, is a strange choice for the head of a committee looking into the possibility that American muslims have been drawn in by Al Qaeda.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:54 pm |
  3. Don - Crystal Lake, IL

    Congressman King is sounding like another Joseph McCarthy? His House Un-American Activities Commission succeeded in fomenting nothing but distrust and fear across this country. Maybe he doesn't remember other extremists like Jim Jones or David Koresh. Oh, that's right. They weren't Muslims were they. Like Timothy McVeigh, they were supposed to be Christians. Mr. King should be reminded that extremism is an equal opportunity state of mind that spans across all religions, ethnic cultures, and social strata.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:53 pm |
  4. Terry P

    Don't like it Muslims – the fix is easy – take a hike!

    March 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  5. JACK

    Moderation

    March 6, 2011 at 10:41 pm |
  6. Chimo

    Well Well Well, good old Diamond dolt doesn't like it when someone praises the virtues of the only democracy in the mideast. And yes diamond dolt Israel is a democracy and alos a majority Jewish state and the only one of it'd kind in the world. That state has had to defend itself from destruction at the hands of majority muslim countries surrounding it. They are by no means perfect, but i guarantee you that muslims in Israel have it 10 times better than muslims in Jordan or Egypt or Lebanon ect... Get the picture?

    March 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  7. curious

    American Muslims could be part of the solution–if they would stop trying to justify terrorism committed in the name of their religion and instead unequivocally declared Muslim terrorists to be their enemies. Until that happens, however, we're going to see more home-grown traitors like Major Hasan...

    March 6, 2011 at 10:38 pm |
  8. fakhredin

    Events of 2011 and 2012: Shaul Mofaz in the spring of 2011 Israeli Prime Minister is – his government 14 to 15 months as it takes – and soldiers Muslim commander of Imam Mahdi – Israel’s destruction – the King of Jordan Syria Iraq captured to the summer and fall 2011 – he fights with Turkey – the end of summer 2011 – and his soldiers in the desert between Mecca and Medina are down to earth – at the end of 2011 –
    Jordanian and Western troops – are involved in Egypt – Saudi king dies in its power struggle starts – -45P/Honda-Mrkos comet meteors in 14 to 20 August 2011 to deal with the land – its largest in in East Asia comes down
    26 August 2011 a huge star in the sky East to explode three or seven days to show signs of burns and this is the Imam Mahdi – In the spring of 2011 earthquake in northern Israel can happen – Jesus between the months of May to August 2012 are shown – and Imam Mahdi will help to establish justice in the world

    March 6, 2011 at 10:32 pm |
    • BS

      what are you on?

      March 6, 2011 at 10:47 pm |
  9. Amy

    This is a threat!!! Either our leaders support the muslim religions or accept the violence with the wider muslim community. This is why we need to do something about it in the first place. HELLO!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • BS

      Yeah appeasement. The worst policy for survival.

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

    Oh, "we are normal, we are normal." yet go to the countries they are from and find a church....I'm waiting.........
    Why is it we overlook the tyranny they live in and expect them to not want us to change? Wake up people.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
  11. Mike the K

    Islam is not only a religion but a cult and a political movement that takes no prisoners; read the Koran. It does not tolerate dissent, take a look at Dearborn or Manchester UK or for that matter students in California who shouted down Ambassador Oren, recently. Islam does not believe in what we believe and that was well expressed by Thomas Jefferson: "I may not agree with what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it." That is not Islam and those who say it is are fools.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:27 pm |
    • geckopelli

      What he said.

      March 6, 2011 at 11:07 pm |
  12. Sheila C

    Heavy sigh. Conceptually being receptive of all nations and religions is a wonderful ideal. In reality, has this country and so many families not suffered the price of this extreme pendulum swing to welcome every single people and religion here? Come now, this is not heaven. Reality says at some point this social experiment is gonna explode. It's busting at the seams!

    March 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  13. Emma the Grey

    Flavor of the day. The 'baggers always have to attack someone, don't they?

    March 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • Teaneck

      Are you an alien?

      March 7, 2011 at 10:41 am |
  14. Cherie

    Neither Islam or Jewish Or Christianity is a peaceful religion. All have their extremists. Religion and believing your Sky Fairy is the "best" causes wars. Maybe look at what it is you believe?

    March 6, 2011 at 10:02 pm |
  15. gavilansalvaje

    Our individual freedoms end where they impinge on someone else's. We need to be tolerant of people but we do need to remind extremists – whether they be Muslims, or Christians, or Evangelical Atheists (Atheists who wish to impose their non-belief on everyone else) or even Vegans and Bieber fans – that we have the rights to believe as we wish and that they have no business imposing their beliefs upon the rest of us.

    March 6, 2011 at 10:01 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Well, the first thing they'll look at is Islamic extremist websites. So, I'm sure they'll want to set up the great firewall of the USSA and add the websites they consider evil to the list over time.
      And we'll most likely have the House not doing its job, as usual, but instead moving back to the 1950's, a new House Un-American Activities Committee.
      And new unemployable people, secondary to blacklists. Of course, the rednecks LOVED those heady days where so many Jews were out of work by House decree...

      March 6, 2011 at 10:15 pm |
    • Lubna

      @Wzrd1 at last someone who has studied history and can see what these hearings really mean for our country.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:21 pm |
    • mollyd

      Wasn't Timothy McVeigh (Oklahoma City bombing) an ex-US military, born and bred in the US Christian????????

      March 6, 2011 at 10:26 pm |
    • BS

      He was also mentally ill(PTSD). If you agree that all Muslims who condone terrorism are mentally ill there could be compromise.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:44 pm |
    • JLO

      Yes, Timothy McVeigh, was.... and we fried his a$$ too. Needs to be a trend. Send anyone caught doing what these people do and do the same. Kill people???? Dont expect special treatment in prison. Dont like boiled chicken and rice to eat???? Well, America is in a recession, that what we have to eat.... get used to it. My taxes shouldnt have to pay for your specail Al Quaeda diet. Dont want to live in our prisons? Dont kill our people.

      March 6, 2011 at 11:48 pm |
  16. diamondback

    Hey I should copy and send all these wonderful comments to aljazeera so they can enlighten the apologists in Muslim countries. Then they would not want to be so mod and western. Looks like the more forward you go the more backwards you appear. America is becoming one big redneck country! Look for my blog soon. I'll post the URL. ha ha ha.

    Careful what you say anymore 😉

    March 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Lubna

      It seems that ordinary Muslims can't do anything "right" in the eye of non-Muslims. The solidarity, non-violent actions and respect for Muslims and others was witnessed countless times throughout the last month in the Middle East is forgotten or put aside so easily. Yet they keep hearing how they have to prove time after time that they are non-violent nor religious extremists. To compare these hearing with Mafia gangs is to say that Muslims are criminals that need to be investigated. Very sad to see how many of our countrymen have been dumped down by idiotic news station such as fox and allowed hate and fear to rule their thinking and conscious.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:19 pm |
    • BS

      I think if you send this back to AlJazeeer the reporters there would don suicide vests and try to hijack planes to kill the posters.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:43 pm |
  17. Doomguy

    More and more I'm convinced that religion is a disease of the mind. Invisible men making decrees from the sky and burning bushes. What a stupid a$$ thing to be killing each other over.

    March 6, 2011 at 9:59 pm |
    • Oh, I See.

      Here, let me help. You can say ass.

      Here's a good use: There is an atheist named Doomguy who is a sanctimonious ass.

      See? No $$ needed.

      We'll work on a new word tomorrow.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
    • BS

      Jesus was bipolar. He was ill. Everyone knows it. Muhammed was also bipolar. He was also ill. Everyone knows it. Mohammed killed people and Jesus forgave. That's the difference.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:42 pm |
  18. juozas malickas

    700 years ago religion of Hate was Christianity....today is ISLAM.

    March 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • qunicey9

      I don't think that you could classify any religion as one of "hate", but rather a sect of it's devoted are hateful people. Sweeping generalizations are dangerous things.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • mollyd

      And the Israelis (JEWS) are SO full of love when it comes to the Palestinians........

      March 6, 2011 at 10:30 pm |
    • BS

      Israeli's love the Palestinians just about as much as we love Alqueda. For the same reasons.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:40 pm |
    • JJ

      700 years ago???? The 1960's was not 700 years ago, Islam and Christianity are both political ideologies of hate, world history says so. They both have murdered millions and millions and converted millions and millions who did not believe in their fantasy god.

      March 6, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  19. reggie

    RELIGION SUCKS SO BAD!!!!!!

    March 6, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • mollyd

      You are so right........

      March 6, 2011 at 10:31 pm |
    • BS

      It's for weak minded fools... it's an old mind trick...

      March 6, 2011 at 10:39 pm |
  20. mark

    Why did almost the entire world media ignore the excesses of Arab dictatorships until recently, ferociously attacking instead the Middle East’s only democracy, Israel?

    Why in a secret ballot at the UN General Assembly last year, did no less than 155 countries, representing 80 percent of UN members, decide Libya would be a superb choice and voted it on to the UN Human Rights Council. Why did websites like this one express concern when this happened but large media organizations such as the BBC didn’t?

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

      Well well another attempt to make israel shine by badmouthing others. For your infomation israel does not classfy itself as a democracy but rather as a jewish state with biblical permission. So, when it favors them they yell democracy and when it does not they yell "land of the jews" judea and samaria.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:08 pm |
    • atheistFish

      Israel IS a democracy. One with a separation of church and state.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
    • mollyd

      I agree with about the Arab dictatorships.......but why don't ask yourself what THE PALESTINIANS would think of your Israeli 'democracy"?????

      March 6, 2011 at 10:29 pm |
    • BS

      @dimondback – considering that there would be no Palestinians without Israel and that Israel is the only secular democracy in the middle east, I don't think we need to make Israel look any better. Looks a hell of a lot better then any Muslim or Arab country.

      March 6, 2011 at 10:38 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.