Hartford’s City Council revoked its offer for an imam to say a prayer at Monday’s meeting, but outside City Hall on Monday night, Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim prayed for the city, in Arabic and English.
“We beseech you to help our leaders to decide with wisdom,” said Imam Kashif.
The Hartford City Council had invited imams to start its two September meetings with prayer, including the meeting on Monday. It was meant to show solidarity with Muslims at a time of controversy over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero and the possible Koran burning. Instead, it brought on a slew of hateful emails and phone calls. Amid the public outcry, the council revoked that decision after public outcry.
Some who protested said the timing was simply too close to the September 11th anniversary.
"It’s basically just disrespecting the whole Muslim community by lumping us together with 12 people out of 1.5 billion people around the world," Imam Kashif said, speaking of some of the 19 terrorists who carried out the attacks.
“I am not linking them to anything. It is my responsibility that I represent everybody in the city of Hartford," said Council President rJo Winch.
That’s why, Winch said, she came up with an alternative to the traditional invocation -- a moment of silence for the month.
“Our fix is that nobody will speak for the month of September. Everyone will come in and do a moment of silence. That way, we are not disrespecting anyone," Winch said.
However, some who attended Monday’s prayer vigil said the silence is letting the haters have the last word.
"I don’t want anyone to think we’re bowing down (to the emails). One guy responded, "We won." And it was the hardest email I had to read," Councilman Luis Cotto said, choking back tears.
A moment of silence will also be held at the council's next meeting Sept. 27.