Muslim Capitol Hill Rally Falls Short of Attendance Goal

Around 3,000 people gathered on the west lawn of the Capitol on Friday for a Muslim prayer service that organizers had hoped would draw around 50,000.

Among those present were around 50 protesters, who – though few in number – were audible enough to prompt organizers at one point in time to ask for respect.

"We would never come to a prayer meeting that you have to make a disturbance," Hamad Chebli, imam of the Islamic Society of Central Jersey, said from the speaking stand. "Please show us some respect. This is a sacred moment. Just as your Sunday is sacred, our Friday is sacred."

Friday's event, "Islam on Capitol Hill," had drawn notable attention and concern as it was expected to be a historic and unprecedented event. One Christian leader, the Rev. Canon Julian Dobbs of the Convocation of Anglicans in North America, called Friday's initiative "part of a well-defined strategy to Islamize American society and replace the Bible with the Koran, the cross with the Islamic crescent and the church bells with the Athan (the Muslim call to prayer)."

"It would be easy for many Americans to believe that Islam is a religion of peace and beauty. By far the majority of Muslims in North America are law-abiding citizens who seek to live out their lives without recourse to violence," the conservative minister noted. "However, there is a strong and influential movement in the Muslim community that is positioning Islam to gain world dominance in the social, political, financial and religious sectors of nations."

In response to the event, Lou Engle of TheCall, the National Day of Prayer Task Force, and Tony Perkins of Family Research Council teamed up to call Christians across America to five days of concerted prayers, in the days leading up to Friday.

"Our fight is not against Muslims, it is against principalities, powers, and forces of darkness," they clarified.

Despite what others were saying, organizers of Friday's event maintained that it was intended to inspire American Muslims and non-Muslims alike.

"This is not a protest, it is a day of prayer, of devotion, hoping that we can work ... for the betterment of the world community," organizer Abdul Malik told the crowd Friday.

"We can come together and work together for the common good," he added.

According to the CIA World Factbook, approximately 0.6 percent of America's population is Muslim, slightly less than America's Buddhist population. As the U.S. population currently stands at over 307 million, that figure translates to over 1.8 million Muslims.