The prayer was to be given before the city council's meeting
By Jeff Cohen
September 10, 2010
The president of the Hartford city council has changed course and now says that a member of the Muslim clergy will not lead a prayer before Monday’s council meeting. WNPR’s Jeff Cohen reports.
The city council has long begun its meetings with a prayer from a local religious leader. And earlier this week, the city council announced a Muslim clergyman would lead the prayers in September. Council Minority Leader Luis Cotto said the point was to stand in solidarity with Muslims in a week when a pastor of a tiny church said he planned to burn the religion’s holy book.
That move brought a wave of hate mail to the city. It also caused others, like newly-minted Council President rJo Winch, to reconsider. She now says that it’s inappropriate to have an imam give the pre-meeting prayer just days after the anniversary of the September 11th attack.
“We’re talking about real people with real lives with real issues with real sensitivity to a lot of things that happened in September. There was 9/11, people did lose family members, and it’s a really sensitivity issue with a whole lot of people.”
Earlier this week, Minority Leader Cotto told Winch that to back down would be unacceptable. Cotto refused to comment for this story.
But Mongi Dhaouadi the executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Connecticut, says Winch’s move is wrong.
“With that kind of reasoning, the message that will resonate with everybody is, for some reason, the Muslims in the Hartford area and the Muslims in general have something to do with what happened on September 11. That’s ridiculous, we refuse to accept that kind of reasoning, and we will stand firm.”
Winch, a Democrat, says she’s not sure just what will happen Monday. She’s considering three options: an interfaith moment of silence, a moment of silence lead by the council, and she’s also considering doing nothing. Winch says the decision is hers to make and she is not seeking a consensus of the council.