Protest Planned Before Muslim Hearings

By Susannah Griffee
|  Sunday, Mar 6, 2011  |  Updated 10:35 AM EDT
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Protest Planned Before Muslim Hearings

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Republican Rep. Peter King is planning hearings on "radical Islam."

Religious leaders, elected officials and advocates are planning a rally in Times Square Sunday protesting what they say are "un-American" congressional hearings on American Muslims.

Republican Long Island Rep. Peter King, chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, is holding the hearings, beginning next week, to examine “the disconnect between outstanding Muslims who contribute so much to the future of our country and those leaders who – for whatever reason – acquiesce in terror or ignore the threat,” according to on op-ed he wrote in Newsday.

Imam Shamsi Ali, of the Islamic Cultural Center, initially proposed the rally.

“We share Congressman King’s concern about the radicalization of our community, but by ‘our’ I mean everyone’s community,” said Ali. “Singling out the Muslim community is discrimination and it is something that is difficult to comprehend.”

King's office declined comment on the rally.

Ali doesn’t oppose the hearings themselves, but rather their singular focus on Muslim groups. “We would like to suggest that the hearing address the radicalization of our society in general, anywhere, in any community,” he said.

Ali will be joined by leaders from various faiths and backgrounds in unity and support of Muslim Americans.

The rally is centered around the slogan “Today, I am a Muslim Too,” and will feature speakers including Russell Simmons, Foundation for Ethnic Understanding President Rabbi Marc Schneier, and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf of the Cordoba Institute.

“I’m concerned that the hearings will lead to a greater alienation of Muslims and heightened bigotry and Islamophobia,” said Rabbi Schneier. “I disagree with Congressman King’s refusal to invite other faiths and ethnic leaders to testify on behalf of the Muslim community.”

Schneier believes that the hearings are “un-American.”

“If the Muslim community is under attack, their fight is my fight,” said Schneier. “Both Russell Simmons and I are very proud to be at the forefront of this effort.”

Councilwoman Helen Foster wrote a letter to King stating that "statements of generalization and accusations toward the Muslim-American community and their houses of worship throughout New York City is a complete disregard to this large population.”

The rally has more than 80 organizations supporting it.

“The rally is a good message for both Muslims and non-Muslims that our continued harmony and unity are needed for this time,” said Imam Ali.

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