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Islamic Center of Washington DC
Source: Islamic Center web-site
The Islamic Center of Washington is a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Washington, D.C., United States. It is located on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue just east of the bridge over Rock Creek. When it opened in 1957 it was the largest Muslim place of worship in the Western Hemisphere. Some 6,000 people attend prayers there each Friday.
The center was originally conceived in 1944 when the Turkish ambassador Munir Ertegun died and there was no mosque to hold his funeral in. The Washington diplomatic community played a leading role in the effort to have a mosque constructed. Support came from most of the Islamic nations of the world who donated money, decorations, and craftsmen to the project. Support for the project also came from the American-Muslim community. The site was purchased in 1946 and the corner stone was laid on January 11, 1949. The building was designed by Italian architect Mario Rossi and was dedicated on June 28, 1957 with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance. The main prayer hall of the center is covered by Persian carpets dedicated by the late Shah of Iran. The center continues to be controlled by a board of governors made up of various ambassadors. Around the building are arrayed the flags of the Islamic nations of the world.
The mosque has been visited by many high profile dignitaries, including several presidents. The highest profile visit was by President George W. Bush on September 17, 2001 only days after the attacks of September 11. On national television, Bush quoted from the Koran and worked to assure Americans that vast majority of Muslims are peaceful.
In addition to the mosque, the center contains a library and classrooms where courses on Islam and the Arabic language are taught
Source: Wikipedia 2008
The 1977 Hanafi Siege refers to an incident that occurred March 9-11, 1977, in which three buildings in Washington, D.C. were seized by 12 gunmen. They were held responsible for taking 149 hostages and the death of two people. After a 39 hour standoff all hostages were released from the District Building (city hall) – now called the John A. Wilson Building, B'nai B'rith headquarters, and the Islamic Center.
One of those killed was 24-year-old Maurice Williams, a young radio reporter from WHUR-FM, who stepped off a fifth floor elevator into the crisis. (The fifth floor is where the Mayor and City Council President have their offices). The gunmen also shot DC Protective Service Division, Special Police Officer Mack Cantrell, who died a few days later in the hospital of a heart attack. Then-D.C. council member, later mayor, Marion Barry walked into the hallway of the District Building after hearing a commotion and was hit by a ricocheted shotgun pellet just above his heart. He was taken out a window and rushed to a hospital.
The gunmen had several demands. They "wanted the government to hand over a group of men who had been convicted of killing seven relatives – mostly children – of takeover leader Hamaas Khaalis. They also demanded that the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God be destroyed because they considered it sacrilegious."
Time magazine noted: "That the toll was not higher was in part a tribute to the primary tactic U.S. law enforcement officials are now using to thwart terrorists—patience. But most of all, perhaps, it was due to the courageous intervention of three Muslim ambassadors, Egypt's Ashraf Ghorbal, Pakistan's Sahabzada Yaqub-Khan and Iran's Ardeshir Zahedi."
Causes of the siege
The leader of the siege was former national secretary of the Nation of Islam, Hamaas Khaalis. Khaalis was born in Indiana in 1921 and named Ernest McGee. Discharged from the U.S. Army on grounds of mental instability, he worked as a jazz drummer in New York City before converting to Islam and changing his name to Hamaas Khaalis. He became prominent in the ministries and school of the Nation of Islam and was appointed its national secretary in the early 1950's.
Khaalis split with the Nation of Islam in 1958 to found a rival orthodox Islamic organisation, the "Hanafi Movement.". In 1968 he was arrested for attempted extortion but released on grounds of mental illness.
In 1972 he published an open letter attacking the leadership and beliefs of the Nation of Islam. A year later five men broke into Khaalis' Washington home and murdered five of his children, his nine-day-old grandson and another man. The murderers were arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. A grief-stricken Khaalis claimed the men were associated with the Nation of Islam, and that the Jewish judge in the cases had not pursued this link.
The takeovers in Washington
On 9 March 1977, seven members of Khaalis' group burst into the headquarters of B'nai B'rith, just a few miles south of Khaalis' headquarters, and took over 100 hostages. Less than an hour later, three men
I know you want to live yourself
But could you forgive yourself
If you left her just the way
You found her
I stand in front of you
I'll take the force of the blow
dedicated to S and J..
good luck to you both....................xxxx
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