50,000 American Muslims for prayer meet on Washington Mall

      At least 50,000 American Muslims will participate in a national prayer gathering for September 25 in Washington, D.C. According to a report filed by The Star-Ledger, the gathering is taking place in the city's National Mall area and is being organised by representatives of a mosque in Elizabeth, New Jersey. The paper quoted Hassen Abdellah, president of the Dar-ul-Islam mosque and an event organizer, as saying: "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 Star-Ledger reports that "A permit from the Capitol Hill police, granted July 28, allows access to the area by the West Front of the Capitol building from 4 a.m. to 7 p.m. on September 25, but the main gathering will occur at 1 p.m., for the Friday prayer service. Abdellah said he expects 50,000 people to attend, from mosques around the country, though non-Muslims are welcome, too." Abdellah stated the idea germinated after President Obama's inaugural speech, and was reinforced by this summer's Cairo address: "For the first time in my lifetime," Abdellah said, "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."

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