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NY Muslims condemn terrorists at Times Square rally

Nadia Nosal, 51, of Manhattan, holds up a

Nadia Nosal, 51, of Manhattan, holds up a sign at a rally in Times Square in Manhattan on Nov. 21, 2015. Credit: Anthony Lanzilote

A small but passionate contingent of New York Muslims vowed their allegiance to the United States and condemned Islamic terrorists as "criminals and thugs" at a Times Square rally Saturday.

About 150 demonstrators convened at the corner of 42nd Street and Seventh Avenue, where they displayed signs at passing cars that said "ISIS Is Not Islam." Some drivers honked their horns.

Maryam Sheikh, 47, of Copiague, said she was warmed when two French tourists offered their support. "They took my picture with my sign and hugged me."

Sheikh said she was at the rally for her children "who were born and raised here. I am worried for them." She is concerned about a backlash against Muslims, she said.

"ISIS is not Islam. They are criminals and thugs that the world must stop," said Parvez Mahmood, 56, of Dix Hills. "All of the Islamic country leaders like Saudi Arabia must stand against these criminals," said Mahmood, an insurance salesman, who organized Saturday's rally and candlelight vigil for the 130 people killed by Islamic State terrorists in Paris on Nov. 13.

"We want to educate people that Islam is all about peace," said Mubashar Dastgir, 29, who lives on Long Island's North Fork. "I was born and raised here and I am an American-Muslim. An American first," said Dastgir, who is an architect. "This is my country and it is my duty to spread awareness that you can't take the action of a few to define a whole religion of people."

Kausar Bano, 52, of Melville, held a sign that read: "Killing of One Innocent Life is Killing All of Humanity." She said the words come from the Quran.

"This is our belief. We are peaceful and loving people and we are also victims of this terrorism. These criminals are not like Muslims," Bano said. She said she immigrated to the United States more than 20 years ago from Pakistan, where last year Taliban terrorists gunned down more than 130 schoolchildren in Peshawar.

"What kind of God would ask someone to kill innocent people?" Sheikh said, her eyes tearing. "These people are crazy. They are Daesh," she said using the acronym that sounds like bigots in Arabic -- a term used to insult ISIS.

Ijaz Bokhari, 58, of Northport, an automotive repair shop owner, said: "We must unite and fight this menace of criminals and thugs who want to divide us."

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