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Posted at 7:01 PM ET, 03/12/2010

Who's the extremist here?

By editors

By Ann Delorey

I am writing as a Virginia resident who is deeply disturbed by the protests of James Lafferty and others who objected to a well-respected imam offering an opening prayer in the House of Delegates [“Boycott of imam’s house prayer urged,” Metro, March 11].

Contrary to the accusations being made by these protesters, I know Imam Johari Abdul-Malik to be an advocate of interfaith understanding, civility and peace. I have had the pleasure of working with the imam for years through the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. The charges levied against him are pure character defamation.

It is clear to me that those opposed to Mr. Abdul-Malik’s prayer are themselves extremists who use fear and hate to create division.

By editors  | March 12, 2010; 7:01 PM ET
Categories:  HotTopic, Va. Politics, Virginia, religion  
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I have met Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, and I am familiar with his work as a Board Member of the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington. He is helping to build bridges between Islam and the other faiths of America. As a Virginian and a Christian, I cannot think of anyone whom I would rather have give an opening prayer in the Virginia House of Delegates.

Posted by: ckleymeyer | March 13, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

I met Imam Johari during a field trip to Dar Al Hijrah Islamic Center with our 7th grade religious exploration class.

The Imam is working hard to promote understanding and cooperation among religious faiths--not violence. Our country was founded on freedom of religion. This includes all religions, not just a select few. If more people were open to learning about and accepting other religions we would not have the problems we do in our world today.

Posted by: deborah_freeman | March 14, 2010 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I think Ms. Delorey raises an excellent question: Who are the extremists here? I have been to the Dar-al Hidjri Mosque, and I was welcomed graciously. As a person of faith who does not muslims are automatically terrorists, I wonder how I would be welcomed at the Virginia General Assembly. Would I not be allow to pray, unless I were also a fundamentalist Christian?

Posted by: folkiebill | March 14, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

Yes, why would anyone in their right mind say anything against Imam Johari Abdul Malik, especially when he says things like this (at a 2001 conference hosted by the Islamic Association of Palestine):

"I am gonna teach you now. You can blow up bridges, but you cannot kill people who are innocent on their way to work. You can blow up power supplies… the water supply, you can do all forms of sabotage and let the world know that we are doing it like this because they have a respect for the lives of innocent people."

You're right, the real extremist are those damned Christians.

Posted by: DLeeActforAmerica | March 14, 2010 8:48 PM | Report abuse

Thank you Ann for speaking the truth and hopefully leading the way to the thousands who have similar views. Thank you Washington Post editors for having the courage to post such a letter; by doing so you encourage dialogue and open the way for mutual understanding and peace.

Posted by: SeeingTheLight | March 15, 2010 10:40 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for allowing us to comment on such discrimination acts by James Lafferty and others who objected the prayer offered by Imam Johari Abdul-Malik. Such acts still show how discrimination still prevails in our country by acts of few fundamentalists. I strongly condemn the protest and hope that our media can help discourage the activities of James Lafferty and others so we can build a strong interfaith communities.

Posted by: taa145 | March 15, 2010 12:47 PM | Report abuse

I have had the great privilege of getting to know Imam Johari over the last five years. I am an elder in the Presbyterian Church and consider him a friend, interfaith leader and spiritual guide. We have worked together to bridge the Muslim/West divide in classrooms, public forums and houses of worship. I have heard him share the essential tenets of his faith, including his belief that God loves us all and that the golden rule is paramount, many times and with trademark grace, humor and intelligence. I have to believe that anyone who attacks his character does so blindly and without knowing him. I know that he can and will explain any of his views in a fair forum.

Posted by: rbenn1 | March 18, 2010 3:34 PM | Report abuse

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