First Muslim prayer in Texas Senate

The first prayer ever by Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque at the invitation of state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who is Jewish was delivered.

First Muslim prayer in Texas Senate

The first prayer ever by a Muslim cleric in the Texas Senate was delivered on Wednesday, despite opposition from some conservatives who said that its timing wasn't perfect because it took place just before Easter.

The prayer was delivered by Imam Yusuf Kavakci of the Dallas Central Mosque at the invitation of state Sen. Florence Shapiro, R-Plano, who is Jewish.

Shapiro's spokeswoman, Jennifer Ransom Rice, said Imam Kvakci was invited to lead the prayer at the Senate because Wednesday is the Texas Muslims Legislative Day at the Capitol.

She also praised Kavakci's "extensive interfaith experience" and said he represents a "substantial constituency of Texans who deserve to be represented."

But some Senators said the timing of the Muslim prayer outraged them.

"I'm shocked that the day before the Easter recess that a Muslim is leading the prayer," Republican Chairman Jared Woodfill said.

The holidays for Christians are Good Friday and Easter Sunday. This also is Passover, a major Jewish holiday.

Imam Kavakci recited a passage from the Islamic holy book, Qur'an, in Arabic and then read an English translation before leading the prayer.

Republican Senator Dan Patrick of Houston boycotted the prayer, saying he didn't want to be present and appear like he was endorsing what Imam Kavakci was saying.

Imam Kavakci said he can't understand why anyone would have a problem with his prayer or with the text he chose from the Qur'an, which was about the mercy of Allah (SWT).

Patrick, a conservative radio talk show host from Houston and self-professed Christian, said he wasn't the only senator to miss the prayer.

Ironically, he delivered a speech about religious tolerance and freedom of speech at the end of Wednesday's session.

"I think that it's important that we are tolerant as a people of all faiths," he said.

But he added: "That doesn't mean we have to endorse all faiths, and that was my decision."

Commenting on Patrick's reaction, Shapiro said she never leaves the floor when Christian ministers deliver an invocation "in Jesus' name" and doesn't consider her presence an endorsement of Christianity.

"I have a great respect for Christianity. I have a great respect for anyone who comes and prays," she said.

Meanwhile, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst said there were a few complaints about the timing of the prayer. "I haven't heard any pushback," he said. "We are a diverse nation. We have rabbis give prayers. We have Christians give prayers. The opportunity should be given to a representative of Islam."

Güncelleme Tarihi: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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