Hundreds of people rallied in New York on Monday, to protest at this week’s Congressional hearings on the US Muslim community. (photo, from bbcimg.co.uk)
The hearings will look at the extent of radicalisation within the community and the response on that issue of Muslim leaders, after recent events, like the Times Square car bomb plot and the Fort Hood shootings.
However Muslim organisations say they are being unfairly singled out.
On Monday, many of the protesters in New York’s Times Square were carrying banners reading “Today I am a Muslim too”.
Witnesses have been called to testify to the hearings by Republican Congressman and chair of the homeland security committee, Peter King.
Mr King, who represents New York, has called several witnesses to testify about “the extent of radicalisation within the American Muslim community”. A number of people believe the witnesses he has called to speak at the hearings do not represent mainstream Muslims.
According to Mr King some Muslim leaders are not helping the police and the FBI as much as possible, when they are investigating terror plots which originate in the US.
Recent examples include Pakistan-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad who tried to blow up a car in New York’s Times Square last year, or Virginia-born US army Maj Nidal Hasan, who allegedly killed 13 people on a shooting spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009.
Mr King says politicians, the police and people are talking about a relatively new, homegrown threat.
But others, like the protesters in New York, are worried that the hearings will only increase Islamaphobia in America.
In Times Square Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf talked to the crowd. Together they led the campaign to build an Islamic centre near the destroyed World Trade Center site.
“Our real enemy is not Islam or Muslims,” said Imam Rauf. “The enemy is extremism and radicalism and radical ideology.”
Andre Carson, Muslim Democratic Congressman, said he wanted to tell “the Peter Kings of the world, we will not take your xenophobic behaviour”.