Washington Cathedral’s first Muslim prayer service

The Washington Post reports: In a corner of Washington National Cathedral, several hundred Muslim worshipers and other invited guests gathered Friday afternoon for a first-ever recitation of weekly Muslim prayers at the iconic Christian sanctuary and to hear leaders of both faiths call for religious unity in the face of extremist violence and hate.

The Arabic call to prayer echoed among the vaulted stone arches and faded away, followed by an impassioned sermon from Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim scholar who is South Africa’s ambassador to the United States. Rasool called on Muslims, Christians and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against extremists who appropriate Islam.

“We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world,” Rasool said. “The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.”

The event was closed to the public, and there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag. Organizers from several area Muslim institutions said there had been concerns about security and threats after the event was publicized and that they and cathedral officials wanted to limit it to a small and selected group. [Continue reading…]

I abbreviated the headline: “Washington Cathedral’s first Muslim prayer service interrupted by heckler.”

Why did one of the paper’s dunce news editors treat the heckler as more newsworthy than the event? I guess I shouldn’t be surprised to see news defined in this way.

Likewise, I shouldn’t be surprised that this story served as catnip for a host of venomously Islamophobic readers venting their hatred in the comments thread.

What I do understand is gang warfare. If the gang is going to hold together and protect its turf, it needs to intimidate its opponents. What I don’t understand is how someone can treat their membership in a religion as being little different from belonging to a gang.

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