Critics Blast Homeland Security Hearing as 'Anti-Immigrant Circus'

Earlier this month, New York Congressman Peter King held a hearing in Washington on the "Muslim radicalization in the U.S.," which drew fiery protests and condemnation. On Friday, another New York politician held a similar hearing in Manhattan.

Republican State Sen. Gregory Ball held the hearing on terrorism preparedness in which King spoke, as well as two other witnesses who some critics consider anti-muslim.

Speakers included Nonie Darwish, the director of Former Muslims United, and Frank Gaffney. Darwish has said Islam is not a "true religion," and Gaffney claimed the Obama administration had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood. Both criticize the construction of new mosques in the U.S. 

State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who represents parts of Upper Manhattan and the Bronx, is one of 11 state senators who wrote a letter criticizing the hearing.

"What should be a very legitimate and serious discussion around homeland security and our preparedness level turns into an anti-immigrant circus," Espaillat said.

Sen. Eric Adams of Brooklyn interrupted Darwish's testimony Friday afternoon, disagreeing with her descriptions of the muslim community. "The Koran, a kufi -- this is not our threat,” he said, while some in the audience applauded him.

Ball then interrupted him. "Senator Adams, you are out of line,” Ball said, raising his voice. “This is not going to be a debate.”

Representatives from Islamic community groups also spoke at the hearing. Linda Sarsour, from the National Network for Arab American Communities, criticized the decision to let Darwish, King and Gaffney speak.

Gaffney is the president of the Center for Security Policy and has claimed that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama administration.

“Inviting such pseudo-experts to articulate views about Muslim communities in New York is akin to inviting David Duke, or head of the KKK to discuss African-American affairs in our great state,” Sarsour said.

Other topics discussed at the meeting included policing, improvements to infrastructure and immigration reform.

With reporting by Lisha Arino

Darwish has said Islam is not a "true religion." Gaffney claimed the Obama administration had been infiltrated by the Muslim Brotherhood