Muslims, supporters protest Congressional hearing

NEW YORK Sun Mar 6, 2011 6:53pm EST

1 of 5. Mark Lukens, a pastor at Bethany Congregational Church, holds a sign at the 'Today, I Am A Muslim, Too' rally in New York City March 6, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Jessica Rinaldi

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Muslims, activists and supporters demonstrated in Times Square on Sunday to protest a Congressional hearing on radicalization of U.S. Muslims.

Holding placards that read "Today I am a Muslim, too," a few hundred gathered at the interfaith protest, decrying what they said was the bigotry and ignorance behind anti-Muslim sentiments in the United States.

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, until recently the leader of the controversial plan to build a mosque and cultural center near the former World Trade Center site, said he was concerned this week's scheduled hearing by Representative Peter King on radicalization of U.S. Muslims would only alienate them.

"My concern is the perception among the youth here that Muslims are under attack ... by their own government.

"This helps radicalize people, and we need to reverse that cycle of radicalization," Rauf said.

King, a New York Republican who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, said on CNN Sunday that while "the overwhelming majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans ... there is an effort to radicalize efforts within the Muslim community."

The protest was organized by an interfaith coalition of community and political leaders and activists, including priests, rabbis and imams.

Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons, who heads the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, also attended.

"The whole premise of the hearings is absolutely discriminatory" and would only foster fear," Simmons said.

Organizers said inclement weather likely kept attendance down.

A small group of counter-protesters from the Liberty Alliance gathered a few blocks away, while New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm earlier hosted a group opposing King's hearings.

No incidents were reported at either gathering, police said.

(Reporting by Chris Michaud; Editing by Jerry Norton)

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Comments (32)
edgyinchina wrote:
Americans in general ‘are under attack… by their own government’. Why should muslim’s be any different than the rest of us ? ? ?

Mar 06, 2011 7:06pm EST  --  Report as abuse
oldsalt07 wrote:
It would be nice to see such activism against the ones responsible for radical actions that lead many to believe Islam and Muslims are on the warpath. When there is an act of violence that is obviously driven by the tenants of fundamental Islam and Jihad against other religions or ethnic backgrounds, you see very little from the Muslim community condemning such acts as unacceptable to the Muslim faith. This would be tacit approval of actions resulting in fears by other groups that Islam and Muslims are interested in violent takeovers of existing governments and peoples. Let’s see a little more effort on the part of Muslims everywhere to stop the senseless violence and work within some legal system to effect change. Killing women, children, elders, etc., regardless of where they live, is not right by any standard. Those that believe it is okay to classify others as infidels because they do not believe in the same religion and use that classification to justify slaughtering them comes real close to the same type of fanaticism displayed by Hitler. Once again, it is wrong and should be condemned with the loudest of voices by all who believe in God or Allah (in my mind one in the same). Join the peaceful, condemn the wicked, but let the All Mighty judge their actions and provide punishment.

Mar 06, 2011 7:11pm EST  --  Report as abuse
affableman wrote:
It would be OK if he added fundementalist Christians and “patriot militias to his investigation. Given that prior to 9/11 the worst terrorist act in American history was perpetrated by a fundementalist Christian who was also a militia member, that’s the least King could do. But he won’t as this is just another Republican McCarthyited witch hunt.

Mar 06, 2011 7:25pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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