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. D. Eisenhower

    You should all know by now that America is run by the Industrial/Military complex. If America would get out of the war business, they would become the greatest nation on earth again. God Bless America....bring our troops home.....buy American.....quit outsourcing.....wean off of OIL, get the government out of the "education" business....term limits...flat tax rate....get religious beliefs out of medical science.

    March 7, 2011 at 7:16 am |
  2. American Muslim

    I'm Muslim, I'm also an American and I'm here to stay! As a fellow American, you either work with me, or maybe you should leave...

    March 7, 2011 at 7:09 am |
    • Moodgirl

      If not are you going to blow us up?

      March 7, 2011 at 7:46 am |
    • Barbara

      Ameen to that!!! I'm not going ANYWHERE either! I was born here, I'm Muslim, and I am American.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  3. Frank S

    American Muslims have to be part of the solution. You don't alieanate them with inflammatorily-named hearings designed to simply pump up political cred in your home district and play into the growing popular anti-muslim frenzy, you IDIOT!! You want more home-grown terrorists in the US, keep punching the buttons.

    March 7, 2011 at 7:01 am |
  4. grace

    Just read * MR.. CRAIG MELLOR .* comment !!!!! – ...well put.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:39 am |
  5. John

    While it is critical not to generalize, the focus should be on aggressively identifying those people within a society that would attempt to commit violence against the total society via a parallel power with a religious basis. Islam is not the enemy, however, there is no doubt that the level of extreme ideological beliefs by some within this section of the population pose a risk to naional security.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:20 am |
  6. Human Ape

    Notice the goofy clothes those ugly women are wearing.

    March 7, 2011 at 6:06 am |
  7. Human Ape

    Islam is a terrorist organization. If Muslims had any sense of decency they would throw Islam out.

    darwinkilledgod dot blogspot dot com

    March 7, 2011 at 6:04 am |
  8. Scriptfoo

    So when are the Homeland Security hearings to address the problem of radical Catholics or Christians in America? (ie "Army of God")

    March 7, 2011 at 6:04 am |
    • Moodgirl

      Catholics do not participate in the "Army of God", that is a Protestant group.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:45 am |
  9. James

    Has anyone else noticed that there are no muslim men in the picture above? I guess they only protest FOR war and death.

    March 7, 2011 at 5:50 am |
    • diamondback

      Thats because the news wants to portray it that way. Well, you could even say looking at the picture that only a handful protest. Nice try though.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:58 am |
    • goat

      Pretty bold statement about that ENTIRE CROWD from only being able to see the full faces of FIVE people in the photograph. That's probably two men on the left, but you're blindness seems to extend far past your own two eyes.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:13 am |
  10. future

    why most of the americans are against muslims? 9/11? or something else? the war between Christianity and Islam is not new. I would say, most of the americans dont realize that we are loosing control of this country. We are becoming inferior compared to other countries like India, China etc. Our kids are not educated enough to take high level jobs. Our kids dont want to study science, mathematics; they want to be NBA star, NFL star, American idol.
    No one is our enemy whether its muslims or someone else. We are our own enemy.

    March 7, 2011 at 5:36 am |
  11. tede

    Just erradicate extremest,christian,muslim whatever. Extremism comes in all flavors. Just looking at history will tell us that.we need to be more accepting of the good and harsher on the few bad seeds

    March 7, 2011 at 5:04 am |
    • Radu

      I guess you are right.
      But let us start with the muslim extremist for now and get them out of the civilized world.
      Then, in order to satisfy you, we will take to court the resposible for the crusades and thorow them in prison.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:32 am |
  12. had enough already

    these are 'peace loving' Muslims...really?
    Don't ever hear them denouncing the violence that goes on.
    Too all muslims: go home, go back to whence you came as you are NOT WELCOME IN MY COUNTRY! I am tired of bending my rules to suit you, You live in my country, you should adapt, but you have not and will not, so I repeat. You are NOT welcome any longer. GO HOME NOW!

    March 7, 2011 at 4:57 am |
    • Barbara

      Ah, since I was born in Philadelphia, where exactly should I "go back home" to?

      And this is MY country as well, so maybe if you don't like it, YOU should leave.

      March 7, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • Peter

      @Barbara try Afganistan or Pakistan, I am sure you will be most welcomed with open arms. Being born in the US does not give you the right to to enforce you views or religion on others. You have your Muslim contries that will definetely welcome you as there a lot of your type already in Pakistan/Afganistan.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
  13. Craig Mellor

    Radical Islam and the Muslims are targeting America and our culture and hertiage. Where do these people get off saying we are attacking them........do they remember 9/11? You bet these monsters do.....I am sure they celebrate it every year in their mosques and homes!! They expect special privileges for their religion, they expect to have prayer rooms where they work, well let me tell these people something.......we will never bow to their sick religion that believes in nothing less than servitude and the loss of freedom and our heritiage. The koran preaches it........they can't deny it except to lie about it.....they demand Sharia Law in America.......and it will be over over cold bodies that that will ever happen!! I am sick and tired of people coming to this country and demanding that we change for them........go back to the worthless and God forsaken third world countries you come from and do each other in in your sick religious sect wars and murders.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:49 am |
    • Dave

      Radical...but I guess I have to agree with it.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:59 am |
    • goat

      We ARE attacking them. Do you really think 9/11 was supported by every muslim on earth? because you are quite ignorant if you do. Regardless, we have killed hundreds of thousands of muslims since then. Look on your own words. You call them monsters. They are people like you and me. You have to respect their religion like you demand yours is respected. Also, most muslims in the US are natural born citizens. You can't tell them to "go home" any more than you could christians or jews that live here. Grow up.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:11 am |
    • spiderman3d

      Hey "goat"....I teach. 99.9% of the muslims I teach are straight from Mohamadville.

      March 7, 2011 at 8:26 am |
  14. 19random35

    Pretty much all religions share the philosophical principles of compassion, generosity, love, and peace. Unfortunately, religious leaders line their own pockets with the gold of their followers, and exploit religious writings to advance their own political agendas. Jesus and Allah are no more gods than Zeus, Ra, or Quetzalcoatl.

    People have these beliefs pounded into their skulls from childhood, and it's brainwashing that lasts a lifetime. I think if people had a better education in science more of them would see how unnecessary and obsolete religion is.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:48 am |
  15. Bob T

    Plain and SImple – this is a minority that want to have thier cake and eat it too. Could an American go and freely protest in an Islamic country? No way. I just thank god we haven't become as bad as the UK which has been taken over by foreigners such that there is no English culture left.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:42 am |
    • J.

      France has it much worse than the UK. Could you imagine prohibiting 'mixed bathing' at beaches like they do in France at public pools, all for a minority religion. No thanks!

      March 7, 2011 at 6:51 am |
  16. proud infidel

    Muslims always play the we-are-he-victim-card, even when muslims murder Americans.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:42 am |
  17. Rick

    Im sick of all these Muslims, right along with all religions claiming their way of life is the way to follow. Let them all kill each other.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:40 am |
  18. Prof.

    It's madness to allow Muslims immigration in the USA considering the endless wars against their countries.

    The gates have been opened to the enemy.
    And who pushes America into these endless wars, then opens Americas gates to the enemy?

    The ones who gain from this; the Zionists.

    March 7, 2011 at 4:22 am |
    • Dave

      That really is a stupid statement to make. People with hate in their hearts like you should not be given a public voice...maybe a public funeral would be more in order.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • Roman

      Oh please. You ignorant anti-semites could twist a Lindsey Lohan arrest story into a Zionist rant. Go to hell.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:33 am |
    • Richard

      One only needs to look at Europe to see the problems brought on by unchecked immigration by Muslims. They constantly live in a heightened state of alert because of it.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • goat

      Did you know that a majority of muslims in the USA are natural born citizens?

      March 7, 2011 at 7:07 am |
    • Peter

      Did you know that a majority of muslims in the USA are natural born citizens?

      @goat I know for a fact that a lot of pregnent women from the middle east and Asis come to us wearing thigh clothing and deliver in the US and go back home with the new borns' birth certificate.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
  19. One Eyed Jack

    It is so nice to see the Muslims of the US have a voice. Too bad it wasn't never heard when the Twin Towers Fell. Too bad it wasn't heard when the Muslim Army doctor murdered soldiers in his office building.
    Too Bad the Muslims have nothing to say about the extremism that has blighted the US for the last decade.
    What does that silence say?

    March 7, 2011 at 4:09 am |
    • NICK


      March 7, 2011 at 5:21 am |
    • scott

      Well put

      March 7, 2011 at 5:56 am |
    • scott

      I meant well put One Eyed Jack

      March 7, 2011 at 5:57 am |
    • EW

      I don't see these people giving up the terrorists so how loyal are they to the United States?

      March 7, 2011 at 6:36 am |
    • J.

      @Nick, and you supposed we do what to kill the terrorists, bake them cookies?

      March 7, 2011 at 6:49 am |
    • cpmondello

      Guess you are a FOX viewer

      March 7, 2011 at 6:51 am |
    • shawn

      Get real, Nick. Americans don't want to keep bombing Iraq and Afghanistan and try to take over the Middle East. Are you even in touch with the general American psyche and domestic matters? Obviously not.

      March 7, 2011 at 6:53 am |
    • goat

      They have always had a voice, you just haven't been listening.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:06 am |
    • diamondback

      Nick I agree, a certain cult in America (Rep. Party) believes that they can mug the world at their pleasure.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:09 am |
  20. FenceSitter

    Why don't I see them protesting against the extremist that they say they are not?

    March 7, 2011 at 3:57 am |
    • Charlie

      We should really be going after 80 year old ladies in wheelchairs.

      March 7, 2011 at 5:09 am |
    • diamondback

      I dont see you protesting against the KKK and the Israeli extremists.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:02 am |
    • goat

      why are they not protesting against the extremists? because they're too busy protesting agaist being considered extremists themselves.

      March 7, 2011 at 7:05 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.