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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Muslim Prayer Day Sept. 25

Q: Who’s behind the Muslim prayer day at the Capitol Sept. 25?

A: The New Jersey lawyer (and former Bucknell University star tailback) who is organizing the event says it’s to show "we love America." He was inspired by the president’s inaugural address and Cairo speech.


I just received this. Any truth to it?

Subject: Believe it! Muslim Day at the Capitol

Have you heard or seen anything about this on TV or in the print media???

This is shocking and outrageous! Even if you are not a Christian, if you are an American, this should make blood shoot out of your eyes!

Please read this and go to their website, it will shock you, I am not kidding, this is the worst thing yet in our country. Good God Almighty, this so called "Christian" president has got to go. He denied being a Muslim, and all his pundits proclaimed him to be a great "Crhistian." Are you kidding me??? Wake up America!!!!! ! He IS a muslim through and through, all his actions from day one tell it. Enough of the denials, and the lies. I am outraged as should every true American should be. Why are we not hearing about it? Where is the media? Where are our congressmen and senators?

What does this tell you about our ‘president’! This country (founded as a Christian nation) can’t have our national day of prayer, but the Muslims can have theirs and on capitol hill?

Wake up people of America! The real America!!

Good Grief and Mercy!!!!!! And the government will not even acknowledge our National Day of Prayer this year or prayers in school !!!! I can’t wait until we vote EVERY LIBERAL OUT OF OFFICE next year–And in 4 years OR LESS THE IMMEDIATE PRESIDENT AND HIS CABINET!!!!! !

President Obama dismissed our national day of prayer last May and now it is okay for an all day event at our capitol for Islamists???

A DAY OF ISLAMIC UNITY!!! Oh My God! It was the Islamists that caused 911 and so many other terrorist actions. Are we insane?

Washington, D.C. – On September 25th, 2009 there will be a national prayer gathering of Muslims on the west front of the U.S. Capitol Building. They are expecting at least 50,000 to attend from mosques all across America. They will gather to pray from 4:00 AM until 7:00 PM. The gathering will take place by the site where U.S. Presidents have been inaugurated since 1981. The organizers say that it was Obama’s inauguration speech in January and his speech broadcast from Egypt in June that gave them the idea for this prayer gathering on Capitol Hill.

Why you ask? Well maybe it was because he said "we are not a Christian nation" "We are citizens of the world"

They have a website set up for this event. If you never look at another website look at this one, especially the final words:
islamoncapitolhill. com

This is their program:

The Athan will be chanted on Capitol Hill, echoing off of the Lincoln Memorial, theWashington Monument and other great edifices that surround Capitol Hill
Thousands of Muslims from all races, creeds, colors and ethnicities will gather for the sole purpose of prayer
Bonds of friendship will be formed between those in attendance, both Muslims and Non-Muslims
Muslim youth will experience tours of the Library of Congress and the Supreme Court.
The peace, beauty and solidarity of Islam will shine through America’s capitol.

Are you kidding me??www.ndptf.org/press_room/index_2166.cfm

And what about security? We the taxpayers will have to pay how many millions of dollars for security.?
This is totally wrong!!!! I am outraged at what this administration is allowing. They cannot have this event at the capitol without having had approval from the White House. Why is this being kept so quiet? That is just a couple of weeks away.


This e-mail is an extreme example of the many disapproving chain e-mails and conservative Web site postings that have appeared concerning a planned Sept. 25 event at the Capitol that is billed by its sponsors as "Islam on Capitol Hill."

It has been no secret: Contrary to the message’s insinuation that "the media" are silent about it, the Washington Post reported:

Washington Post, Sept. 5: Tens of thousands of Muslims plan to pray "for the soul of America" outside the U.S. Capitol this month in what is being described as a first-of-its-kind event.

The author of this e-mail says the event is "outrageous" and "should make blood shoot out of your eyes." That’s his or her opinion (the author is anonymous). But the author also sees the event as evidence that Obama "is a Muslim," which he isn’t.

Obama’s connection to the event is that its chief organizer, Hassen Abdellah, says he was inspired by the president’s inaugural address in January and speech in Egypt in June. He told the Newark Star-Ledger in a story published Aug. 31:

Hassen Abdellah: For the first time in my lifetime I heard someone of his stature speaking about Islam and Muslims not in an adversarial sense, but in the sense of being welcome and acknowledging we are integral citizens in the society – that we’re gainfully employed, we’re educated. … He said he had his hand open to the Islamic world. The Islamic world wants to open their hand and shake it.

Photo credit: Bucknell Athletics

Abdellah is president of Dar-ul-Islam mosque of Elizabeth, N.J., and is an attorney. Formerly known as Allen Simmons, he adopted his current name while attending Bucknell University in Pennsylvania during the late 1970s. In 2004 he was inducted into Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame, which describes him as a "standout tailback and return specialist" who gained 3,484 yards (including 1,543 rushing) before graduating in 1980, making him the school record holder at the time.

Update, Sept. 25: Some conservative commenters questioned what they call Abdellah’s "terror ties" based on the fact that he was one of eight defense lawyers representing four men accused of the 1993 truck-bombing of the World Trade Center. The New York Times said at the time that "in a trial that has been generally more a courteous playing field than an arena for dramatic confrontation, [Abdellah] is by far the most aggressively combative of the lawyers in the case." One of Abdellah’s clients – Mahmud Abouhalima – was convicted in 1994 and is currently incarcerated at the Florence Federal Correctional Complex in Colorado.

The prayer event took place at the Capitol as scheduled, attended by "thousands of Muslims," according to CNN. The network quoted an organizer, Abdul Malik, as saying:  "But I will say something it took me my whole adult life to come to: America is not perfect, but I want to tell the truth: It is one of the best places in the world to live."

Update: Sept. 26: The event went off without incident. Fox News reported:

Fox News, Sept. 25: Several thousand Muslims convened on the Capitol grounds for a peaceable day of prayer Friday, voicing their religious fervor and solidarity with American values while ignoring scattered protesters of other faiths. . . . No arrests or disturbances of any kind could be seen in several hours of observing the event.

For the record, the words Abdellah refers to in Obama’s inaugural address are these: 

Obama, Jan. 20: To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy.

And at Cairo University the president called for "a new beginning" for U.S. relations with the Muslim world, in a speech that was broadcast around the world and later translated by the State Department into Arabic and more than a dozen other languages. Among other things, the president said:

Obama, June 4: So long as our relationship is defined by our differences, we will empower those who sow hatred rather than peace, those who promote conflict rather than the cooperation that can help all of our people achieve justice and prosperity. And this cycle of suspicion and discord must end.

Planning for the Capitol event began soon after that speech. Capitol Hill police granted a permit for it on July 28. Some conservative bloggers at first speculated incorrectly that the event might be on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., but the planned date is actually Sept. 25. The prayer service is scheduled for 1 p.m., not 4 a.m. to 7 p.m., as the e-mail states.

Abdellah says the purpose is to pray "for the soul of America" and to show other Americans that "we love America." He told the Star-Ledger:

Hassen Abellah: Most of the time, when Muslims go to Washington, D.C., they go there to protest some type of event. … This is not a protest. Never has the Islamic community prayed on Capitol Hill for the soul of America. We’re Americans. We need to change the face of Islam so people don’t feel every Muslim believes America is ‘the great Satan,’ because we love America.

The e-mail message’s author also complains: "This country (founded as a Christian nation) can’t have our national day of prayer, but the Muslims can have theirs and on capitol hill?" That’s untrue; the "National Day of Prayer" went on as scheduled May 7. Organizers said the 58th annual event produced "a greater outpouring of prayer for our nation … than ever before." The message is a twisted reference to President Obama’s decision not to participate publicly. Instead he issued a presidential proclamation but did not hold a public service in the East Room as President Bush had done in previous years. (The chain e-mail actually links to Obama’s proclamation, in which he "call[ed] upon Americans to pray in thanksgiving for our freedoms and blessings and to ask for God’s continued guidance, grace, and protection for this land that we love.")

The author also recycles the misleading claim that Obama said the U.S. is "not a Christian nation." What the president actually said April 6, during a trip to Turkey, is that the U.S. is a "predominately Christian nation" that, like predominately Muslim Turkey, is "bound by ideals and a set of values" rather than religious identity.

Obama, April 6: I think that where – where there’s the most promise of building stronger U.S.-Turkish relations is in the recognition that Turkey and the United States can build a model partnership in which a predominantly Christian nation and a predominantly Muslim nation, a Western nation and a nation that straddles two continents – that we can create a modern international community that is respectful, that is secure, that is prosperous; that there are not tensions, inevitable tensions, between cultures, which I think is extraordinarily important.

That’s something that’s very important to me. And I’ve said before that one of the great strengths of the United States is – although as I mentioned, we have a very large Christian population, we do not consider ourselves a Christian nation or a Jewish nation or a Muslim nation; we consider ourselves a nation of citizens who are bound by ideals and a set of values.

-Brooks Jackson


Diamant, Jeff  "Islam Goes to Bat for America: Muslims Organizing Service Outside Capitol to ‘Pray for the Soul’ of the Nation" Washington Post (Universal Press) 5 Sep 2009.

Bucknell University. "Five Former Bison Greats To Be Inducted into Bucknell Athletics Hall of Fame." press release. 8 Jul 2004.

"A Nation United in Prayer." National Day of Prayer Task Force Web site. accessed 21 Sep 2009.