U.S. Muslim leader on schedule to pray at Obama event

January 19, 2009

Ingrid Mattson, president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), is on schedule to say the Muslim prayer at an inaugural prayer service at Washington’s National Cathedral on Wednesday. There has been no change of plan. The Obama inauguration team has not withdrawn its invitation.

(Photo: Ingrid Mattson, 16 Oct 2008/Sohail Nakhooda)

That might come as a surprise to readers who read several news items and blogs in recent days with headlines like “Obama prayer leader from group US linked to Hamas.” orQuestionable Connections for Speaker at High-Profile Inaugural Event?” The report started on a blog called American Thinker on Saturday and has been picked up repeatedly since then.

Charges of supporting Hamas, which the U.S. government has listed as a terrorist organisation, would seem like just the thing to get anyone disinvited from the prayer service pronto. But they would have to be proven. These articles only mentioned alleged “links” that seem flimsier the more they’re examined.

“This is brought up over and over again,” Mattson said by cellphone as she prepared to travel to Washington from Hartford, where she is professor of Islamic studies at Hartford Seminary. The “links” line refers  to the fact that ISNA was among about 300 individuals and Muslim groups listed as unindicted co-conspirators in the federal case against the Holy Land Foundation, which was convicted last November of channeling money to Hamas. That case was so messy that it resulted in a mistrial in 2007 before the prosecution won on its second try.

ISNA and Mattson have publicly denounced Hamas and repeatedly denied supporting them. They are trying to get the organisation’s name off that list. But since ISNA was only an unindicted co-conspirator, it could not hear what evidence the government claimed to have against them or defend itself in court. “If they had any real evidence, they would have indicted people,” Mattson said. “We have never had any links with Hamas.”

(Photo: Washington National Cathedral, 11 June 2004/Hyungwon Kang)

Did the Obama inaugural team know this? It’s hard to imagine they didn’t — Mattson already participated in a prayer service at the Democratic convention in Denver last August.

“They know who we are,” Mattson said. “We’ve been in touch with them. They have a good understanding of how smear campaigns work. They’ve received statements of support for us from other people in the wake of these stories, including from Jewish groups.”

8 comments

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Would she read a islamic prayer in English ?? or Arab ??
how pathetic !!!

Posted by Anitha | Report as abusive

I thought the news was that Muslims were praying in a Christian cathedral, but then, it’s Washington’s National Cathedral and the American Epsicopalians can’t be called Christian.

So what’s the news? Muslims woman associated with lefty terrorist supporting group prays in house of lefty terrorist supporters for community-organiser-and-useful-idiot-in- chief? Meh.

Posted by saint | Report as abusive

for several years there have been joint services in some of the english cathedrals (epsicopalians).their worship has been to god/alla,jesus never getting a mention.over there the church of england will try any thing to get people to attend.thirty or so years back ,the then third in command ,the bishop of durham a guy called jenkins, stated he did not believe that jesus had a restoration or that there was a virgin birth,until they managed to shut him up.incidentally about that same time york minster(cathedral)mysteriously all most burnt down, many christians saw it as a warning.some commentators suggest that the denomination has had it,s candlesticks taken away(rev).i was confirmed at 12 in the church of england by a priest who became arch bishop and twenty years later became a christian in a different denomination.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Anitha — she said the prayer in English: “On this day of new beginnings, with hearts lifted high in hope, may we be a people at peace among ourselves and a blessing to other nations. We pray to you, O God, saying keep this nation under your care, and guide us in the way of justice and truth.” What’s pathetic about that?

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

tom heneghan,yes i see were you are coming from,but sometimes tolerance is mistaken for weakness.a friend of mine in england recently told me of an incident which is typical.his young daughter gave him a small toy pig as a present and he took it to work and put it on his desk.the person who had a desk near his, was a muslim,because a pig is considered an unclean animal demanded that he move it.sensitivity always seems be one sided.

Posted by brian lee | Report as abusive

Brian Lee, this inaugural prayer service at the National Cathedral had prayers from several different religions, so the tolerance was extended to all of them. That is not a sign of weakness.

Posted by Tom Heneghan | Report as abusive

Brian Lee, For Muslim pig is considered unclean ONLY if it was to be eaten. If the Muslim man stated his reason to remove the pig toy because of uncleanliness than clearly he is uneducated enough about his religion. There is nothing in the Holy book of Quran or Prophet Muhammad PBUH’s life examples that Muslim must demand removal of anything associated with pigs. Islam only prohibit Muslim to eat pigs, and demand all who claimed to be Muslim, of being humane to all creation of God.

Posted by AndiNigaL | Report as abusive

Anitha, I’m too awaiting your answer from Tom Heneghan question in regards of your initial comment.

Posted by AndiNigaL | Report as abusive