House Democrats decided to fight “Islamophobia” by praying at a mosque with historical ties to terrorism.
Democratic Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia, Joe Crowley of New York, and Keith Ellison of Minnesota headed to the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Northern Virginia on Friday. The mosque once featured deceased terrorist Anwar al-Awlaki as an imam. Convicted Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan also attended services there.
“Intolerance and hatred have no place in American society,” Beyer said Wednesday in a press release. “We are a diverse nation of immigrants whose shared cultural heritage is one of openness and inclusion. We must celebrate this diverse thread of our cultural cloth, not tear it apart.”
The Democrats’ trip takes place just two days after Islamic terrorists Syed Rizwan Farook, 28, and his wife Tashfeen Malik, 27, killed 14 at a social services center in San Bernardino, California.
“Yesterday does make it a little harder. It’s just another unfortunate data point. So, I think it’s more necessary than ever to go talk to the people who have nothing to do with that,” Beyer told the New York Times by phone on Thursday.
U.S. Special operators killed Anwar al-Awlaki, who became a popular al-Qaida cleric in the Arabian Peninsula, Sept. 30, 2011, with a drone strike northeast of Sana’a, Yemen.
Former U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan killed 13 and wounded 32 others during the Nov. 5, 2009, terror attack at Fort Hood, Texas. He was found guilty on on 13 charges of premeditated murder and 32 of attempted murder Aug. 23, 2013.
Representatives for the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center told the Washington Examiner on Friday that its members have been heckled in recent weeks.
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“Women taking their children to school have been heckled by passersby, and we experienced two incidences of hate violence,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik told the newspaper.
A man was also charged with leaving a fake explosive at the building two weeks ago.
Other officials expected to attend the prayers at the mosque on Friday include District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Democrat Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota, the Washington Times reported.