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Cathedral draws Muslim service

Tribune-Review
| Friday, November 14, 2014 9:30 p.m
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Two-year-old Sona Agha of Burke, Virginia, and her father, Agha Hasnain, take part in a Friday prayer Nov. 14, 2014 at the National Cathedral in Washington.

WASHINGTON — In a corner of Washington National Cathedral, several hundred Muslim worshipers and other invited guests gathered Friday afternoon for a first recitation of weekly Muslim prayers at the iconic church and to hear leaders of both faiths call for religious unity.

The Arabic call to prayer echoed among the vaulted stone arches, followed by an impassioned sermon from Ebrahim Rasool, a Muslim scholar who is South Africa’s ambassador to the United States. Rasool called on Muslims, Christians and others to come together and make “common cause” in the fight against terrorists who appropriate Islam.

“We come to this cathedral with sensitivity and humility but keenly aware that it is not a time for platitudes, because mischief is threatening the world,” Rasool said. “The challenge for us today is to reconstitute a middle ground of good people . . . whose very existence threatens extremism.”

The event was closed to the public and there was heavy security, with police checking every name and bag. Nevertheless, the carefully scripted ceremony was interrupted when a well-dressed middle-aged woman in the audience suddenly rose and began shouting that “America was founded on Christian principles. … Leave our church alone!” She was swiftly ushered out by security aides, and the service continued.

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.

After the service, outside the church, the protester said she was not arrested, and was not harmed.

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