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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. Flex

    I wonder.....what are Muslims afraid of?....it seems that their reaction is either: Push and shove...or accuse the other, typical behavior of someone trying to hide a fact and/or uneasy with self.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:36 am |
  2. Sam

    The irony of it all is: had these Muslims been protesting in Iran, Afghanistan (under the Taliban) or any other Middle Eastern country, they would be beaten or killed. These Muslims come to Europe and the US and protest, all in the name of Freedom of Speech and the right to Peaceful Assembly, but little do they realize they're taking these for granted! I'd like to see that one female protester thats wearing pink and yellow wear THAT in Afghanistan – where the only color allowed is blue. I'd also like to see that protester saying they're "Muslimerican" wave that placard around in the Middle East. Hell they'd be killed!

    March 7, 2011 at 3:26 am |
    • Sam

      http://www.cnn.com/2011/WORLD/meast/03/05/saudi.arabia.protest/index.html?iref=obnetwork

      March 7, 2011 at 3:31 am |
  3. Tobash

    The more they protest the more they prove they do not want to be part of the USA, they want to be a seperate faction and fifth column within the USA.

    When the twin towers fell, the Muslim community of Patterson New Jersey celebrated. There were no "terrorists" in there, just naturalized citizens who were celebrating that the Twin Towers were destroyed. Naturalized Muslim citizens who hate the USA and are willing to celebrate and perhaps collaberate when extremists attack.

    The USA needs to honestly and openly discuss this issue.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:18 am |
  4. enoughisenough

    Hey I'm giving a shout out to all you fiesty Islam – Muslim protest ladies in NYC!
    Go try waiving those posters, shaking those fists, taking off those head scarfs and voicing your opinion over in Kabul or some place that practices strict adherence to sharia law.....and the see what happens....go ahead....I dare you.
    You would all be beaten and stoned.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:17 am |
  5. coconews

    Maybe what Muslim call " PEACE" .... oppress all religiouss minority, no freedom of choice in religion expression, kiling, execution, genital mutilations, barbaric incidents, suicide bombers, suicide kilings......We NON Muslim call it -True discipline of hate. Muslim is brain washing mumbo-jumbo!!..They want to RULE the whole WORLD !!! ...and will distort all the facts about this DEMONIC RELIGION. The end of story.

    March 7, 2011 at 3:09 am |
  6. Anchor

    Huge difference between core Muslims and Muslim "extremists"....hence the "extreme" qualifier. I can think of some seriously messed up and misguided Christians too. If all Muslims are terrorists, then are all Christians pedophiles?

    March 7, 2011 at 3:05 am |
  7. Manish

    THOSE WHO FAVOUR MUSLIM CAUSE MUST GO TO MUSLIM RULED COUNTRIES AND THEY WILL NOT FIND ANY DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DANGEROUS WILD ANIMALS AND MUSLIMS.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:59 am |
  8. Methusalem

    Their brotherst and sisters murder in the name of their God day in day out: they just murdered a minority Christian minister in Pakistan. Three days ago they killed two Christians, a priest and burnt their Christian churches in Egypt. Have we seen some of these hypocrites coming out for demos and saying "We American Muslims are against those barbaric actions in the name Allah"? No! In fact, it doesn't matter what they would say anymore, it is too late, and the whole world knows a lot about their agendas and intentions

    March 7, 2011 at 2:51 am |
  9. Manish

    WHY IS THERE NO DEMOCRACY IN ISLAMIC COUNTRIES ? HOW WILL FRIENDLY GOOD MUSLIMS EXPLAIN THAT :-). LET US SEE THEIR REASONING.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:47 am |
    • WallaWalla

      Wow, ignorance. Have you never heard of the 3rd-largest democracy in the world? Or did you just think there was nothing between Thailand and Australia? Indonesia is pretty hard to miss. Also Turkey. I could go on, but try examining a map sometime. Or a book. Or even a brief wikipedia article.

      March 7, 2011 at 11:52 am |
  10. Manish

    Why is there no democrary in Islamic countries (UAE, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan...). Minority are treated like animals. All countries must abolish all rights to Muslims.Islam has only one agenda : Eliminate others by violence and Rule the world.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  11. The a the a that's all folks

    What a perfect example of a freak show. Stupid crazy right-wingers high on rage on one side, a religion that exemplifies why the human race should have abandoned religion centuries ago on the other.

    Like the Nazis versus the Soviets in World War II, bloody shame that both sides don't exterminate each other and let the decent people just go on peacefully coexisting.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:42 am |
  12. Lee Oates

    This proposal for hearings on radicalization of Muslims in the states is simply a Macarthy type of political play to drum up votes for the Republicans. It is a witch hunt and a political lynching to rally the hate vote.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:41 am |
  13. Methusalem

    The first country on this planet which could ban Islam vehemently would be the greatest nation ever

    March 7, 2011 at 2:36 am |
  14. truthywood

    Bush killed more people than Mohhammad would have ever killed but still these western terrorists think that they are the moral example for the world.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:32 am |
  15. v_arabe

    "Europe will be an muslim nation by the end of this century" Lt. General Jerry Boykin retired 3 star general of the US Army he now has a ministry called Kingdom Warriors.

    America is being invaded from the inside. educational books being used in schools are all published by 2 companies both owned by muslims

    Wake up America! Sharia Law is coming to your hometown. what will you do to stop this invasion? do you not care? the only thing we care about as americans what burger joint to eat at next and how cool is your new iPhone.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:20 am |
    • Brian

      You sound like a huge loser.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:36 am |
    • Kenny

      Wake up, America! Misquotes, bad grammar and an appalling geographic ignorance are coming!

      March 7, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  16. Betty M

    "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

    Well why don't you and your fellow Muslims stand up WITH the rest of America and start protesting the extremists and helping root them out, instead of whining that you are being picked on.

    March 7, 2011 at 2:03 am |
  17. tonyL

    There are bad Muslims as well as good Muslims. There are a lot more good then bad. In fact over 98% are good. Yes, we should all work to neutralize the bad ones. But we cannot blame the good Muslims for the actions of a few bad ones. There are a few bad Christians as well. We cannot blame the good Christians for the actions of a few bad ones. Hitler was a Christian and murdered millions of Jews and Christians. There are a lot of other examples like that in the history of this world and maybe those should be brought up in front of the Peter King the racist bigot lawmaker holding the hearings.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:56 am |
    • Methusalem

      Yeah, right! But the bad Muslims are the good Muslims to non-Muslims – and to their own selves, for that matter.

      March 7, 2011 at 2:40 am |
  18. Capt. Huffnpuff

    McCarthy and the HUAC ride again. ( I always wondered what a Senator was doing on the HUAC).

    March 7, 2011 at 1:42 am |
  19. Upperhand

    Mohammad was a lying terrorist, plunderer and rapist.

    3. Plunderer.

    Bukhari Hadith Volume 4, Book 53, Number 352:
    Narrated Abu Huraira:

    Allah’s Apostle said, “Allah guarantees him who strives in His Cause and whose motivation for going out is nothing but Jihad in His Cause and belief in His Word, that He will admit him into Paradise (if martyred) or bring him back to his dwelling place, whence he has come out, with what he gains of reward and booty.”

    4. Rapist.

    Bukhari Hadith Volume 3, Book 34, Number 437:
    Narrated Anas bin Malik:

    The Prophet came to Khaibar and when Allah made him victorious and he conquered the town by breaking the enemy’s defense, the beauty of Safiya bint Huyai bin Akhtab was mentioned to him and her husband had been killed while she was a bride. Allah’s Apostle selected her for himself and he set out in her company till he reached Sadd-ar-Rawha’ where her menses were over and he married her. Then Hais (a kind of meal) was prepared and served on a small leather sheet (used for serving meals). Allah’s Apostle then said to me, “Inform those who are around you (about the wedding banquet).” So that was the marriage banquet given by Allah’s Apostle for (his marriage with) Safiya. After that we proceeded to Medina and I saw that Allah’s Apostle was covering her with a cloak while she was behind him. Then he would sit beside his camel and let Safiya put her feet on his knees to ride (the camel).

    March 7, 2011 at 1:32 am |
  20. Upperhand

    @ Voice_Of_Reason – Yeah, I'm fully aware of his extremism and the extremism of ALL Muslims who take his word as truth...but the only reason we have a world is because others have stood up and fought the onslaught of these extremists...not stand with them and give them voice.

    March 7, 2011 at 1:30 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.