Islamic prayers at the Capitol

Thousands of Muslims gather for ‘A Day of Islamic Unity’ meant to show the ‘peace, beauty’ of their religion. Some conservatives and Christians objected to the event.

By Alexander C. Hart
September 26, 2009
Reporting from Washington

Thousands of Muslims, prostrating themselves in prayer, gathered just feet from the Capitol on Friday for “A Day of Islamic Unity,” an event intended to showcase what organizers called the “peace, beauty and solidarity” of Islam.

Hassen Abdellah, a lawyer and president of the Dar-ul-Islam Mosque in Elizabeth, N.J., said he was inspired to organize the event by President Obama’s attempt to reach out to Muslims in his inaugural address.

“We should also extend our hand,” Abdellah said.

The turnout fell far short of the 50,000 predicted, but the crowd was energetic as participants rolled out variegated prayer mats and plastic tarps in front of the Capitol, where Obama’s inauguration was held in January.

“We can show the world that not all Muslims hate America,” said Habib Beyah, who came from New Jersey with his son to participate. “Not all Muslims are terrorists. Not all Muslims are extremists.”

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