Several thousand Muslims convened on the Capitol grounds for a peaceable day of prayer Friday, voicing their religious fervor and solidarity with American values while ignoring scattered protesters of other faiths.
"Allah Akbar!" shouted the sea of worshippers in flowing white and gold robes and headwear, following a mid-afternoon recital from the Koran.
The estimated 8,000 in attendance chanted and used carpets, blankets, jackets, and plastic tarp as the traditional ground cover on which they knelt in prayer.
A sermon afterward urged all Muslims to "God bless America" and avoid the "trap" of hating anyone, particularly Christians and Jews.
The crowd in attendance on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol Building was comprised predominantly of people of color and men, with females seated separately. They arrived from disparate points across the country, mostly the East Coast, to take part in what organizers billed as "Jummah Prayer on Capitol Hill: A Day of Islamic Unity." In Arabic, "Jummah" refers to a day of gathering, usually traditional Friday prayers.
No arrests or disturbances of any kind could be seen in several hours of observing the event. Asked if any such incidents had occurred, a law enforcement official on site who declined to provide her name said, "Only what you see."
At remote locations, distanced far away from the proceedings and under the watchful eyes of uniformed and plainclothes Capitol Police, scattered groups of Christians used microphones and public address systems to voice their displeasure with the Muslim event.
One such group, whose members displayed two oversized tablets similar to those seen in Biblical depictions of the Ten Commandments, called itself "Operation Save America" and distributed pamphlets saying: "Abortion is Murder!! Homosexuality is Sin!! Islam is a Lie!!"