State Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Texas

A state senator in Texas is feeling the heat from constituents – and trying to apologize – for arranging to have a controversial Muslim imam deliver a prayer to open the state Senate that excluded both Christians and Jews.

“Imagine the outcry if a Christian or Jew had offered a prayer that excluded all other religions to open the state Senate!” said S. Newman. “This state and nation were established and have been sustained on a foundation of Biblical principles and practices. The only reason to attack the foundation of any structure is to initiate the process which leads to ultimate destruction.”

This week, Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque opened the state Senate with a plea for protection from those who do not follow Islam.

“Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way,” he said.

Islam, of course, teaches that Jews and Christians both have earned the wrath of Allah by failing to follow Islam, and also have lost the way by following the teachings of the Torah for the Jews or the Bible for Christians.

His appearance in the halls of state government had been arranged by state Sen. Florence Shapiro, who has begun responding to constituents who are unhappy with her work.

“I believe that an explanation is due the citizens of our great state … as to why you invite an imam who offers a prayer to open the state Senate that excluded both Christians and Jews,” Newman wrote.

Initially, Shapiro responded with a non-answer.

“To Whom It May Concern: Thank you for sending me your thoughts and opinions. I appreciate hearing from my constituents on issues of importance to you and your families. Due to the large number of e-mails my office receives, we are only able to respond by US post mail to those who provide a complete and current mailing address. If you did not include a mailing address, please resend your correspondence with a complete mailing address, so that we can respond to your concerns in a timely manner. Thank you, Florence Shapiro.”

Unsatisfactory, said Newman.

“I don’t believe a single word in your ‘Out of office’ auto reply. This is just a way to dampen the reaction to your questionable actions. Yes, I will be looking forward to your US Postal letter reply…,” he wrote.

The state senator then followed up with a letter, apologizing if her actions offended anyone.

“Thank you for your correspondence regarding Imam Dr. Yusuf Kavaci (sic). I appreciate your perspective. I want to make it clear that my intentions were never to offend anyone. If I did so, I apologize,” she wrote.

“The Freedom and Justice Foundation contacted me with the request for Dr. Kavakci to follow the protocol set two years ago during their legislative day, when Imam Moujahed Bakhach of the Islamic Association of Tarrant County opened the Texas House with a blessing. Having worked with Dr. Kavakci on legislation, and seeing his resume and extensive inter-faith experience, I honored his request.”

Kavakci opened by introducing what he would do: “We will pray by reading from first chapter, opening chapter, Al-F?tehah, from holy Quran, followed by recitation, traditional way of recitation of text from holy Quran, with an addition.”

Then he prayed:

In the name of god, Allah, the beneficent, the merciful. All praise is for Allah, our lord, the lord of the worlds, the compassionate, the merciful, master of the day of judgments. Oh, god, Allah, you alone we worship, and you alone we call on for help. Oh, Allah, guide us to the straight path, the path of those whom you have favored, not of those who have earned your wrath or of those who have lost the way. Our lord, have mercy on us from yourself and guide us in our efforts, strivings, and works.”

Harris County Republican Party chairman Jared Woodfill also was criticial, telling KTRH radio, which posted a recording of the prayer, that there should have been given some consideration to the Christian faith, which is celebrating its holiest day this weekend, the resurrection of Jesus on Easter Sunday. Woodfill says someone of the Christian faith should have given the prayer on the Senate’s last day in session before the break.

The imam concluded “with an Islamic chant that sounded eerily like it was coming over the loudspeakers in Tehran,” according to a statement from the U.S. Pastor Council. “Ironically, it was a Jewish Republican, Sen. Florence Shapiro who invited the imam to give the prayer that specifically excluded those of her faith as well as Christians.”

“Imagine if an evangelical Christian pastor prayed in Jesus name, ONLY FOR CHRISTIANS, before the government of Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc., during Ramadan,” the statement said.

Pastor Ross Cullins, of the executive committee for the Houston Area Pastor Council, said Christians should let legislators know their concerns.

“Appreciation of diversity in people is not tantamount to acceptance of their gods,” he said.

The day he appeared, Shapiro posted a promotion for Kavakci on her state website.

“He is a Turkish-licensed attorney and has been a law professor at Istanbul University and Ataturk University in Turkey. He is currently the resident Islamic scholar for the Dallas Central Mosque…” she said. “He serves on the Peace Institute Advisory Board at Richland Community College in Richardson, and is a member of the Richardson ISD Religious Practices Advisory Board as well as the Religious Community Task Force of Dallas Independent School District.”

The Dallas-Forth Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations had promoted the occasion as a huge step forward.

“Don’t miss the next milestone event for the Texas Muslim community!’ DFW-CAIR’s announcement read. “On April 4, 2007, the first Muslim imam will open the Texas Senate with an Islamic prayer.”

WND reported in 2005 on the nonpartisan Freedom House report documenting Saudi-sponsored hate literature, originating with the government and Saudi-financed sources that reflected “extremist Wahhabi ideology,” being disseminated through mosques in the U.S.

One of those mosques, according to a critical editorial in the Dallas Morning News, was Kavacki’s:

“The mosque’s imam, Dr. Yusuf Kavakci, has publicly praised two of the world’s foremost radical Islamists, Yusuf Qaradawi and Hasan al-Turabi, as exemplary leaders. Dr. Kavakci also sits on the board of the Saudi-backed Islamic Society of North America, described in congressional testimony as a major conduit of Wahhabist teaching. Yet Dr. Kavakci tells The Dallas Morning News he rejects Wahhabist teaching. Something doesn’t add up,” said the editorial.

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