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Thousands of Muslims gather to pray on Capitol Hillcomment (0)

October 15, 2009

WASHINGTON — Thousands of Muslims gathered Sept. 25 on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol for prayer in what may have been the first such event of its kind at the site. Although organizers announced on the “Islam on Capitol Hill” Web site their expectation of a gathering of 50,000, the attendance appeared to be no more than 7,000 to 8,000. The U.S. Capitol Police do not make crowd estimates, a spokeswoman said. The event included recitations from the Quran, a sermon and the Friday prayer observed by Muslims. Those attending sat segregated by gender on the ground facing east toward the Capitol and Mecca, the scared site of Islam in Saudi Arabia.

During his sermon, Abdul Malik encouraged Muslims while trying to reassure Americans of their support for this country. “I want the American people to know: We love you. … America, this is our country. We are with you,” said Malik, a New York imam who plans to move soon to Washington to serve as chief executive officer of Islam on Capitol Hill.

America “is one of the best places in the world to live,” Malik said. “What we have done here today we couldn’t do in any Muslim country.” Malik made it clear Islam would seek to make converts. “America, I announce to you, it is my intention to invite your children to the worship of one God,” he said. “It is my intention to remove every idol from every place — nothing physical. It is a confrontation of ideas, because, brothers and sisters, the most powerful weapon you have in your hand … is truth.”

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