NEW YORK (AP) €” Hundreds of Muslims chanted and waved flags from around the globe as they marched Sunday in the 22nd annual American Muslim Day Parade.
About 20 protesters shouted anti-Muslim slogans from behind police barricades along Manhattan’s Madison Avenue and sought to link the marchers to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
A member of the parade organizing committee, Dr. Hafiz Ur Rehman, a pediatrician from Bay Shore, said the marchers condemned the 2001 attacks.
“We are law-abiding citizens, and we want the people of New York to know that Muslims are part and parcel of the landscape,” he said. “The motto of this parade is that Islam holds human dignity high. And that is what we want to demonstrate.”
Before setting off, marchers laid down blue plastic ground coverings and prayed, the women behind the men. Facing east, they alternately stood, knelt and touched foreheads to the ground.
Marching behind banners representing Afghan, Bangladeshi and Indonesian community groups, they chanted more Muslim prayers along the 16-block parade route.
Police kept the marchers separate from the protesters, who shouted “God bless America” and “No more 9/11s!”
Protest leader Joe Kaufman, of Coral Springs, Fla., said parade organizers included groups that support Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that the U.S. government considers a terrorist organization.
“We believe that this parade is a threat to New York City and a danger to national security,” he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not attend the parade, but a statement of support from him was read from a podium.
Parade-goer Khalilah Shabazz, of Newark, N.J., said the event was “beautiful.”
“We’re all Muslims,” she said. “We’re all one big family. Just loving each other. Just pure love.”
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