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Hartford City Council Calls Off Islamic Invocation

Jenna Carlesso

September 11, 2010

The executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Connecticut said Friday that the city council has called off its pre-meeting prayer Monday, which was to be an Islamic invocation.

Mongi Dhaouadi said he received a call from Council President rJo Winch Friday saying that there would be no prayer, but that the council would instead hold an "interfaith moment of silence."

The meeting falls two days after the ninth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

The council was inundated with phone calls and e-mails from angry residents after announcing this week that it had invited an imam to give the opening prayer. At a press conference Wednesday, Winch said she was saddened by the responses, some of which she characterized as "racist views of hatred."

Leaders of different faiths are invited to participate in the moment of silence on Monday, Dhaouadi said Winch told him, but no invocation will be held.

"She described those calls and e-mails as being hateful and irrational, and yet she's caving in to those pressures," Dhaouadi said. "We're extremely disappointed."

Winch could not be reached for comment Friday.

Councilman Luis Cotto, who defended the Islamic invocation, said he is not sure what will happen at Monday's meeting, but pointed out that "there has not been an official uninvite of the imams." He said he still supports having them lead the pre-meeting prayer.

Kashif Abdul-Karim, resident imam for the Muhammad Islamic Center of Greater Hartford, who was invited to lead Monday's prayer, said he and leaders of other faiths were dismayed at the announcement. "This is a defamation of our character," he said.

Dhaouadi said canceling the Islamic invocation gives the perception that Muslims in Connecticut were connected to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. He said he and Abdul-Karim still plan to attend Monday's meeting.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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