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. Dallas

    It's funny how history never makes an impression. There was a time Christians were accused of wanting to not only take over the world but in fact hated humanity itself. They were fed to lions due to an earthquake or bad storm because obviously god(s) hated them. Once they gained a majority they start claiming people who follow a different way of life are plotting to take over society as a whole and are full of hatred for natural human rights. Next atheists will do what they always do when they have a majority in government (I think they proselytize more, actually). The term "unbiased atheist" is pathetically transparent, for the record. Oh, and if Muslims are gonna be held collectively responsible for not "stopping the extremist in their midst" I say let's hold Christians to the same thing. Why didn't you stop almost 2000 years of morally reprehensible acts, that are still happening the world over? Maybe, just maybe, we can stop thinking in black and white and try to solve a complicated problem instead of just whitewashing it.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:28 am |
  2. oldzoom

    Radical fun-damn-mentalist Islamic Jihadist=enlighted sociopath, no wonder the world is scared 🙁

    March 7, 2011 at 1:26 am |
  3. Upperhand

    Mohammad was a lying terrorist, plunderer and rapist.

    Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 52, Number 269:
    Narrated Jabir bin ‘Abdullah:

    The Prophet said, “War is deceit.”

    March 7, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  4. A Khan

    It is great to read all of the comments. It is always best to understand first and then make a general comments. Just think who traind the extremist leaders. Islam came to US and it will continue IA, in the right direction.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  5. commonman01

    OP29 I take you have not prayed to Jesus before ! As for the term " religion" Jesus asks for a relationship and was very much opposed to " religions" that do ofer no hope. But even satan can answer requests so why do believe that God won't or can't. I have witnessed many answered prayers some mine some others.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:20 am |
  6. Chris

    I don't believe that Islam has a place in the 21st century, it is too backwards for its own good. Oppression of women and children, social stratification, tacit approval of jihad by more Muslims than they want you to think, and the elevation of their religion over civil laws; these are all wonderful facets of the "peaceful" religion of Islam. Is it a coincidence that their prophet had dozens of wives and that the last wife he married was an 8 year old? Oh that's right, it was hundreds of years ago, and at least he didn't consummate the marriage until she was 11.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:12 am |
  7. am

    So called Christians I have read the Torah, Quran, and the Bible you should read all three and come to your own conclusion. We all live here, the greatest country on the planet, please learn American history and the world history, you might learn something now.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  8. englishman

    Mr King was a zealous supporter of the IRA who carried out the most atrocious indiscriminate bombing campaign in the UK! How dare he have the audacity to now single out the Muslim community. I can't recall hearings on the Irish/Roman Catholic community. Why the hypocrisy Mr King.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:06 am |
  9. Radu

    This "religion of peace" infests every country on Earth and brings with it its backward lifestyle and values. Yet, our Western governments can't lap it up fast enough, even throwing tax payer money to "celebrate" their diversity. Instead of learning from the past, we encourage our communities to embrace this ideology, disguised as cultural diversity.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:58 am |
    • Dallas

      When you say that we can't "learn from the past", do you mean colonialism, illegal invasion (ancient and modern), backing brutal regimes we later cry about and one sided trade? Because we did learn something, that's why a few enlightened individuals don't hate every adherent of the world's 2nd largest religion because of a few radicals. That's why we treat other humans with respect and try to learn from their culture as they do from ours. I'll concede America isn't perfect, the fact that obviously ignorant bigots can call themselves a citizen of this Republic is proof of that.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:34 am |
  10. Grown Up

    What a bunch of soft headed simpletons! To not acknowledge the fact that there are in fact terrorists we need to be concerned with and that they are in fact muslim, is childish.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:37 am |
  11. Rasheed

    Hey Ms. "Reality", with your long list of alleged Muslim excesses,
    Many of the items on your list appear to be attackes behind which American hands (CIA) are suspected. Of course we'll never know – no one beats America in the art of deception. Well, maybe Israel.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:36 am |
  12. david

    can the moderates promise us that if their leaders call for jiahd that they will walk away from their mosque leader? the Islam teaching of Teqya promotes deception to gain power, for example a muslim can act as a Christian if the end goal is to deceive and gain control. so from the quran verses of slaying the infidels, which ones will you not obey? all religions are not the same for Jesus taught to love your enemy and that evil doers will be judged by God at the end of time, God will sort out the evil doers but Islam teaches for them to sort it out now..even if it means being evil by killing innocent people. How can someone be good when he is evil? the taliban act good but their deeds are evil, truly they are hypnotized by demons. If God wanted The USA destroyed then He would do it, He does not need help from man. But we see God is merciful for even though america is turning more wicked and looking more like the 'great satan' still there are pockets of blessings in the USA.
    And we all know that Saudi arabia has been providing oil for the great satan, and funding acts of terror on the USA or as they call it "the great satan". why would you feed "the great satan"? the misguided jihadist spill their blood , paid for by rich muslims, and they sell oil and what not to the USA at the same time. Am I the only one questioning all this? Since I am a Christian and believe Jesus words in John 14:6 that He is the only way to heaven , then I have to believe that all others are on the wrong path, walking in a state of delusion. walking aimlessly trusting their gurus and misfits only to live a short life full of hardship and woe. Then, only to find on judgement day that they were deceived by men who acted so holy. THere is no holy man, no not one. all men have sin inside, all men go to washroom and have emotions of greed, lust, and it corrupts. Only if it is kept in check by GOd;s holy standard that man sees his depravity.

    as for this feisel guy who is trying to build the NYC mosque, I am disturbed by the alleged connections to radical extremists. say one thing, to deceive and do another is what is looks like. i do not trust him and think he is deceived and trying to deceive like the NY muslim TV channel trying to promote a peaceful Islam to the americans, only to cut his wifes head off. its gross, its evil, and its satanic. though he is blinded and can not see it.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  13. TK

    How about inviting Mr.Peter King to learn more about Islam. I believe once he is done learning he can't wait converting to Islam. Thank you. TK

    March 7, 2011 at 12:26 am |
  14. Radu

    Funny religion Islam:
    I have never heard about a man being stoned to death for adultery. Oh, yes, they can have many wives.
    I have heard a lot about women being stoned to death for adultery. On, no, they cannot have many husbands.
    I have heard about women being stoned to death for adultery. What hapened to the man that the woman cheated with ? Oh, no , he hasn't been stoned to death.
    Indeed, I love this religion of peace! I wish to convert!

    March 7, 2011 at 12:25 am |
  15. Upperhand

    "Those who know nothing about Islam pretend that Islam counsels against war. Those people are witless. Islam says: 'Kill all the unbelievers just as they would kill you all!' Does this mean that Muslims should sit back until they are devoured by the infidel? Islam says: 'Kill them, put them to the sword and scatter them.' Islam says: 'Whatever good there is exists thanks to the sword.' The sword is the key to Paradise, which can be opened only for the Holy Warriors! Does all this mean that Islam is a religion that prevents men from waging war? I spit upon those foolish souls who make such a claim." – Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini

    March 7, 2011 at 12:23 am |
    • Voice_Of_Reason

      Last time I checked Kohmeini was an extremist. If everyone in the world followed the word of every extremist AND the words of the books that gave them these thoughts there would be no world.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • GV

      Voice of Reason:

      Yes, Kohmeini was an extremist, but he was also a widely reveared extremist. Does him being an extremist make you gloss over the fact, that after spending his whole life studying islam, the he was appointed to his position because he was an authority on Islamic doctrine? Wouldn't it's true meaning moreso than than you, so called moderate non-practicing muslims, and other western apologists.

      Also, It's not like he made those statements to an empty stadium or one full of boos and jeers. That being said, where was the widespread condemnation from the Ulema (Islamic scholars), or the 'moderate' Ummah (worldwide muslim community) when he said these things?

      March 7, 2011 at 3:20 am |
  16. Upperhand

    "Islamophobia": The fear of speaking out against the rapidly growing religion/ideology that is out to repress all who do not follow its doctrine.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • hellmut meister

      You must be speaking of christianophobia, the fear of people who oppose reproductive choice for women and want to force children to pray to their idol while being intimidated by wooden or plaster man nailed to a cross, telling them his suffenring is caused by their sins.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:27 am |
  17. Upperhand

    @ Emma the grey – "we're not trying to tell anyone else how to live. So there's that, eh?"

    No!! But you want to tell others what to believe!!

    March 7, 2011 at 12:17 am |
    • hellmut meister

      The other day a muslim gave me the finger after I cut him off and my plastic jesus suddenly fell off the dashboard. Can anybody explain what happend? I am scared out of my pants!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:35 am |
  18. sehrish

    I cant believe what I am reading!!! How many of you actually know EVERYTHING ON ISLAM? How dare you base your knowledge of Islam on the wrong doings of fanatics, which by the way EXIST IN EVERY DAMN RELIGION? I am a Muslim born Pakistani American. I am damn proud to be alll 3...You people don't even know of the organizations that do exist and try and educate everyone on Islam....I urge you all to watch Zakir Nayek: talk on terrorism..He is the most educated muslim I know of who will explain everything. In it he states that Jihad is not what these damn fanatics make it out to be. Killing innocent people in the name of God is a SIN, and any muslim with a brain knows this! We aren't all terrorist. I have friends of all religions and we get along happy! This is just a phase, every religion has had their uprising and downfall..History repeats itself...Its just scary because a new religion is threathening! But please, do not think that ISLAM IS THE ENEMY...like people say "Guns dont kill people, people kill people". Same here..."religion doesn't kill people, people kill people"

    March 7, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • GV

      Sehrish: Have you read Koran 9:73 -" Prophet make war on the unbelievers and the hypocrites and deal rigorously with them. Hell shall be their home: an evil fate."

      Koran 9:123 – "Believers, make war on the infidels who dwell around you deal firmly with them. Know that Allah is with the righteous."

      9:5-6 – "Kill those who join other gods with Allah wherever you mand find them"

      4:76 "Those who beleive fight in the cause of Allah [jihad] "

      8:39-42 – "Say to the infidels...Fight then against them till strife be at an end, and religion be ALL OF IT ALLAH'S

      March 7, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • JohnBravo

      So how many radicals do you know? And what are their names?

      March 7, 2011 at 12:25 am |
    • Voice_Of_Reason


      Yes those are in the Qur'an. Good Job at using Google.

      P.S. You can do the same thing with the Bible

      March 7, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • Javed

      You have become an expert of Quran without actually reading it ..Facts might be irrelevant to you but for the record :

      You quoted chapter 9 :5-6 . The verses were revealed in the context of the battlefield and even in battle there are conditions that are laid out to Muslims .

      Just by quoting out of context verses , you are insulting your own intellect

      Quran 9:6 : And if any one of the polytheists seeks your protection, then grant him protection so that he may hear the words of Allah. Then deliver him to his place of safety. That is because they are a people who do not know

      "And fight in the way of Allah those who fight you. But do not transgress the limits. Truly Allah loves not the transgressors" The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 2, Verse 190.
      "Allah does not forbid you to deal justly and kindly with those who fought not against you on account of religion, nor drove you out of your homes. Indeed, Allah loves those who deal with equity" The Holy Qur'an, Chapter 60, Verse 8.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • GV

      Voice of Reason:

      I'm sure you can find violence in the Bible, but who cares?

      1. I am not a christian,

      2. Most importantly, christians aren't strapping bombs to themselves and indescriminately blowing up men, women, and children. Nor are they hijacking planes and running them into buildings. When was the last time christians captured someone and beheaded them for all the world to see in viral videos. Yes the bible is violent, obscene, and absurd, but when was the last time one of the aforementioned examples happened where the perpetrators shouted 'Jesus is Great'?

      March 7, 2011 at 2:46 am |
    • GV


      Even though the koran is not in chronological order, we all know that Surah's 9 and 5 were the last revelations. We also know that the principle of Abrogation in the Koran 2:105 allows for later revelations to cancel earlier contradictory verses.

      So your examples of 2:190 and 60:8 were superseded by the violent verses of Surah's 9 and 5.

      And you can't use Quran 9:6 to show benevolence. Sure Mohammad allowed for safe passage of SUBJEGATED enemies that SUBMITTED to islamic rule. What if the didn't 'seek protection'? They'd be killed. Look at the Banu Qurayza. Was that a merciful profit in action promulgating your religion of peace?

      What about "Whoever changes his religion, kill him." (al-Bukhaari, 3017). Is that taken out of context too?

      Also, you're missing the point. It doesn't matter if I 'misinterpret' the koran and the sunnah, because I don't believe in it. What matters is that your muslim brothers 'misinterpret' it and use it for justifying terrorism.

      March 7, 2011 at 3:13 am |
    • Peter

      @sehrish where have you been hiding your friend Bin lardin?

      March 7, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  19. Chuck Steak

    Hey Haji, I got your Sharia law.... right HERE!

    March 7, 2011 at 12:07 am |
    • Mario


      March 7, 2011 at 1:17 am |
  20. Juan elger

    The majority of Muslim are obviously not terrorist. But this same majority is refusing to stop their radical brethen.

    Instead to protest, use your energy to denounce and get rid of the radicals and thr extremist preachers

    Factually, the best way to force the majority of muslems to act is telling them: help us to exterminate thr terrorits, if not, you are not more welcome in this country.

    March 7, 2011 at 12:04 am |
    • GV

      I say the same. Instead of spending so much time trying to keep the rest of us from expressing our opinions about their religion, and crying discrimination when we try to single out the guys who are practicing pure Islam, they should be denouncing those fundamentalists, turning them in to the FBI, and pushing for a refutation of the warlike scriptures of the Koran and Sunnah

      March 7, 2011 at 12:16 am |
    • hellmut meister

      Are you a christian? If so it is your responsibility to make sure that no more nute bomb planned parenthood clinics or shoot abortion doctores. It you donn't succeed you are not one of us and you should be thrown out of the country!!!

      March 7, 2011 at 12:19 am |
    • Cyrus

      Juan Elger:

      Your comment shows you know nothing about either the Muslim community, or about the rest of the world and its diversity. Muslim community, whether in the U.S. or elsewhere, is an incredibly diverse community and there is no central authority that can propagate or prevent any idea. If you travel, which I doubt you do, more secular Muslims have shed their blood to fight against radicalism than you can think of. The fight between secular Islam and radical Islam has been going on for a thousand years, and it's time you get a memo too.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:49 am |
    • Cindy

      Protesting is as American as Apple Pie, and these protesters are from this country, just like you and me.

      March 7, 2011 at 1:03 am |
    • GV

      hellmut meister:

      No, I am not a christian. However, if I were, I would be the first to denounce an abortion clinic assassin as a morally repugnant beast in the field worthy of the death penalty.

      And let's be real, how often is a terror attack perpetrated in the name of christianity? Or Judaism, or Zoroastrianism? The problem of radical islam is real. We minimize it at our peril.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:34 am |
    • GV


      You're right about ongoing and historical confilcts between secular muslims and religious extremists. And the truth is, wherever the islamofacists have attempted to seize power, such as in Egypt or Libya, they've been mercilesly put down by the ruling dictators.

      However, it's not the secular muslims that get arrested by the FBI for plotting to blow up Christmas tree ceremonies here in the USA. It's the fundamentalists that need to be exposed and ruined.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:40 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.