The Hartford City Council is reconsidering its proposal to have local imams perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of council meetings in September.
Council President rJo Winch called a news conference Wednesday to address the uproar over the proposal she supported Tuesday.
In an email sent out by the City Council on Tuesday called the plan "an act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters."
But since a story was posted on NBCConnecticut.com, Winch and other council members said they have received numerous complaints and even some hate emails over the decision to begin the meetings with Muslim prayers.
"Where is the separation between church and state?," wrote one anonymous reader. "Why not an act of solidarity with your New York City American brothers and sisters who were attacked on 9/11?," wrote another.
The email from the City Council referenced the ongoing battle over a proposed mosque in New York. "One of the goals of the Council is to give a voice to the many diverse peoples of the City, which is especially important given the recent anti-Islam events throughout the country," the email read.
Although the council does say a prayer before every meeting, Winch says she's reconsidering the idea of the Muslim prayers so close to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. She instead said she would consider an interfaith prayer before next Monday's meeting.
"There might be 20 different faiths there on that day because, I understand his position, we have to understand we live in a multicultural city and there are 125,000 residents here so we don't want to have anyone be offended," Winch said.
That idea, however didn't sit well with Council Minority Leader Luis Cotto, the council member who originally made the proposal to ask the imams to perform the invocations. Cotto said he had no problem with the timing of the proposal. "I thought that doing this in September or at the next meeting, which happens to be September, makes sense, and I still do," Cotto said.
Local Islamic leaders were also not happy about Winch's apparent backtracking. "We feel as though it would be a step backwards because it would be labeling me as part of the problem that took place on 9/11 and we had nothing to do with that," Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim said. Abdul-Karim was scheduled to perform the invocation at the Sept. 13 City Council meeting.
He said he plans to be at City Hall Monday to say the prayer.