U.S. cathedral hosts 1st Muslim Friday prayer

Women talk as the Washington National Cathedral and five Muslim groups hold the first celebration of Muslim Friday Prayers, Jumaa, in Washington, November 14, 2014. (Reuters)

In an elaborate display of inter-faith coexistence, the Washington National Cathedral invited the capital’s Muslims to administer and hold this week’s Friday prayers.

While the event was interrupted by one angry protestor yelling “get out of our church. Leave our church alone,” the service went smoothly as dozens of worshippers attended.

South Africa’s ambassador to the United States led the prayer in a sermon that preached religious tolerance and condemned the acts of Muslim extremists, labeling them as a dangerous threat to the world.

“They invade lands, behead journalists, execute civilians and declare war on anyone different to them,” he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Organizers said they hoped the service on a Friday, when Muslims traditionally gather for prayers, would foster interfaith understanding and tolerance.

Reverend Canon Gina Campbell organized the event with Rasool and with the help of 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.

The church, host to several inter-faith events in the past, welcomed the religious gathering, as Campbell described the Washington National Cathedral as “a place of prayer for all people.”

“Let us stretch our hearts and let us seek to deepen mercy for we worship the same God,” she said.

Since 1907, the church has been used for state funerals for three presidents, and a number of presidential prayer services. It also has hosted services for noted diplomats and dignitaries.

After the service, outside the church, the protester said she was not arrested, and was not harmed in the altercation. She did not explain why she disrupted the service.

“I didn't do it for myself,” she said. “I did it for the Lord.”

[With Reuters]

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