First Muslim prayers at National Cathedral interrupted by protester
By John Clarke
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The first Muslim prayer service ever hosted at the National Cathedral, a landmark Christian church in the U.S. capital, was briefly interrupted on Friday by a lone anti-Islamic protester but the religious gathering continued with a theme of tolerance.
The outburst came as dozens of Muslims knelt on prayer rugs below walls of stained glass and stone archways. The protester, a woman from Michigan who declined to give her name, managed to sneak into the tightly secured, invite-only service and interrupt the introduction.
"Jesus Christ is on that cross over there," she yelled. "Get out of our church. Leave our church alone."
The woman was physically removed from the prayer service by a reverend and cathedral police, and the service got underway.
Ebrahim Rasool, the South African ambassador to the United States, who is Muslim, gave a sermon that preached religious freedom and condemned Muslim extremists as a dangerous threat to the world.
"They invade lands, behead journalists, execute civilians and declare war on anyone different to them," he said.
Rasool and the National Cathedral's Reverend Canon Gina Campbell organized the service, with help from the All Dulles Area Muslim Society, Council on American-Islamic Relations, Islamic Society of North America, Muslim Public Affairs Council and The Nation's Mosque.
Campbell welcomed the religious gathering, saying the Washington National Cathedral was "a place of prayer for all people. Continued...