Coalition to protest Rep. KingBy VÍCTOR MANUEL RAMOS
May 20, 2011
A newly formed coalition of interfaith and civil rights advocates is rallying this weekend against Rep. Peter King's plan to continue hearings into what he calls the threat of homegrown Islamic terrorism.
King, the chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, yesterday dismissed the coalition -- Long Island Neighbors for American Values -- as a fringe group of "malcontents."
The inquiry King (R-Seaford) launched earlier this year caught local civil rights advocates and Muslim leaders by surprise.
But coalition organizers said it served as a wake-up call to join forces against what they called "fear-mongering."
"We want to see it as a long-term coalition to spread the voice of reason," said Samantha Fredrickson of the Nassau County chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The new group will make its presence known Saturday with a noon rally outside King's Massapequa Park district office.
King said he intends to move forward with his hearings despite the criticism. He's scheduled a June 15 hearing over his concerns about Muslim groups in U.S. prisons and a July hearing on recruitment of young Muslims for terrorist camps in Somalia.
"As far as I am concerned, these demonstrators are just another version of Long Island's lunatic left," King said. "It is a badge of honor to be picketed by this band of malcontents. Needless to say, I will continue my fight to protect America."
The coalition unites 25 civil rights and interfaith groups, including chapters of the New York Civil Liberties Union, local mosques and Unitarian Universalist congregations. Peace activists are also part of the group.