Thousands of Muslims from across the New York region marched down Madison Avenue in Manhattan Sunday, waving flags and flashing peace signs to protesters.

The 22nd annual United American Muslim Day parade was a peaceful affair on a warm, bright day that drew hundreds of beaming children. Though few people gathered on the sidewalk to watch the parade, the street was filled with proud participants.

A small but vocal contingent of hecklers taunted marchers at 41st Street, though police officers kept both groups apart. . .

Some of the pejorative comments from onlookers were inconspicuous; others were not.

A well-dressed elderly woman walking up Madison Avenue told a friend on a cell phone: “I’m the only one in the street without a schmata on my head,” using the Yiddish word for rag.

A passerby who heard the remark muttered under his breath that she was also the only one with dyed hair.

Rita Thompson, 44, traveled with her boyfriend from their home in Redington Beach, Fla., to protest the parade.

Thompson later shouted expletives at marchers and said, “They’re all going to be bin Ladens.”

“I’m so appalled by this, two days before the anniversary of 9/11,” she said later in an interview, adding that she called City Hall earlier in the week to urge Mayor Michael Bloomberg to cancel the event.


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