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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MARCH 4, 2003
12:56 PM
CONTACT:  Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726,
cair@cair-net.org, or
Ms. Hodan Hassan, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441,
hhassan@cair-net.org
GOP Asked to Condemn Walkout during Muslim Prayer;
Washington State Lawmaker Says Action 'An Issue of Patriotism'
 
WASHINGTON - March 4 - The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today called on state and national Republican leaders to condemn a walkout by two members of that party during a Muslim prayer opening Monday's session of the Washington State House of Representatives.

The Washington, D.C.-based Islamic civil rights and advocacy group said Republicans Louis McMahan and Cary Condotta went to the back of the chamber during the invocation by Imam Mohamad Joban of the Islamic Center of Olympia. Condotta said he "wasn't particularly interested" in the prayer. McMahan said she did not remain in the chamber because: "It's an issue of patriotism...The Islamic religion is so...part and parcel with the attack on America. I just didn't want to be there, be a part of that...My god is not Mohammed."

SEE: "2 LAWMAKERS SPURN MUSLIM'S PRAYER" http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/110881_prayer04.shtml

"How many times must American Muslims ask Republican leaders to repudiate Islamophobic hate within their own ranks? Americans must not allow the actions of a few, whatever their positions of authority, to divide our nation along religious and ethnic lines. Such divisive actions by elected leaders can only serve to increase discrimination against ordinary American Muslims and harm our nation's image and interests worldwide," said CAIR Executive Director Nihad Awad.

Awad urged state and national Republican leaders to repudiate the lawmakers' walkout and to apologize to Washington's Muslim community.

In his prayer, Imam Joban stated: "We open this session of the House of Representatives in the name of Allah, the one God of Abraham, God of Moses, God of Jesus, and God of Mohammed, peace be upon them all...We ask Allah or God to bless the state of Washington so it may continue to prosper and become a symbol of peace and tranquility for people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds. We pray that Allah may guide this House in making good decisions for the people of Washington...At this time, we also pray that America may succeed in the war against terrorism. We pray to God that the war may end with world peace and tranquility."

In response to the walkout, Imam Joban said: "As a Muslim we have to respect what people believe and...we have to forgive something because of ignorance The Holy Quran says that (one should) always respond to bad action with good and those who used to be enemies become friends."

CAIR is America's largest Islamic civil liberties group. It is headquartered in Washington, D.C., and has 15 regional offices nationwide and in Canada. Since its founding in 1994, CAIR has defended the civil and religious rights of all Americans.

CONTACT: Ibrahim Hooper, 202-488-8787 or 202-744-7726, E-MAIL: cair@cair-net.org; Ms. Hodan Hassan, 202-488-8787 or 202-439-1441, E-MAIL: hhassan@cair-net.org

NOTE: CAIR offers an e-mail list designed to be a journalist's window to the American Muslim community. Subscribers to the list, called ISLAM-INFONET, receive news releases and other materials dealing with American Muslim positions on issues of importance to our society.

To SUBSCRIBE to ISLAM-INFONET, go to: http://cair.biglist.com/islam-infonet/

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