Protests over King's radicalization of Islam hearings

March 7, 2011 3:43:13 AM PST
Just days before hearings begin in Washington on the radicalization of Islam, the Long Island Congressman spearheading that investigation was the target of two protests Sunday afternoon.

There was a third organized rally in favor of Peter King's investigation, but all three shared one common thread - the passion to stand in the rain and protest.

King believes affiliates of al-Qaida are radicalizing some American Muslims, and he made the case from his Long Island home Sunday.

"As chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, I don't see I have any choice," he said. "I have to investigate number one, how extensive is the radicalization, how is it done, what are the signs of radicalization. And is the leadership of the Muslim community cooperating with law enforcement?"

On Sunday, protesters chanted, "Shame, shame Peter King!"

Some are taking issue with what they see as King's divisive rhetoric when it comes to Muslims in America.

This week on Capitol Hill, the Congressman scheduled hearings on Muslim extremism.

King claims more than 80 percent of American mosques are controlled by radical imams.

At King's community office in Jackson Heights, Queens, critics held signs reading "Do not blame the whole for few!" and "I am Muslim too."

"Peter King we are onto your game," one protester said. "Dividing people and using fear and targeting an entire community does not make any of us safer."

The other side was equally represented.

On Sunday afternoon, King's supporters held their signs reading, "We support Congressional hearings on radical Islamists."

"A guy like Congressman King, thank God for his efforts," a supporter said. "Imagine the abuse he's going to take for everything he's been doing with these Congressional hearings. He's going after these people and going into the mosques and he wants to trace the money. Where is the funding coming from and the backgrounds for these leaders?"

The protests wrapped up at 2 p.m. in Times Square, with the celebrity backing of music mogul Russell Simmons.

"The rights that we take for granted for ourselves are only as good if we fight for those same rights for others," Simmons said.