Hundreds of protesters in New York have gathered in Time Square to protest at a Congressional hearing on the US Muslim community amid fears of rising Islamophobia.
The protesters, some carrying signs reading, “Today I am a Muslim, too,” came to demonstrate against the singling out of Muslims in Congressional hearings which begin in Washington on Thursday.
The Sunday rally was organized by a coalition of more than 100 interfaith, non-profit, and governmental organizations.
Imam Faisal Abdul Rauf — who was until recently the leader of a plan to build a mosque and cultural center near the Ground Zero site — told Press TV, “It should be crafted around the issue of extremism and the radicalization that breeds extremism, because extremism is not only from Muslims, extremism comes from all the faith religions.”
“There are American extremists and radicals as there are Muslim extremists and radicals. And it is this cycle of radicalism we have to bring an end to,” he added.
The hearing is called for by House Homeland Security Committee chairman Peter King, who has been quoted as saying that “eighty-percent of mosques in America are controlled by radical imams” — a figure not backed up by any research or statistics.
American music mogul Russell Simmons, who heads the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding, says King’s hearings represent a blanket suspicion of Muslims in the US that is no different from the xenophobia and racism of America’s history.
“Our real enemy is not Islam or Muslims,” Rauf said. “The enemy is extremism and radicalism and radical ideology.”
No incidents were reported at the gathering, police said.