The Dallas County Commissioners Court broke precedent last Tuesday when they opened their meeting with a Muslim prayer to show support for the Muslims protesting at recent Texas events, according to the Dallas News.
Two Muslim leaders led the brief prayer, reading three verses from the Quran and asking God to “send your blessing on the city of Dallas, our beloved state of Texas and the great country of the United States that we call home.”
This act comes at the heels of the social media backlash of an Imam leading a prayer before the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo on January 25th. He cancelled a scheduled return to the stock show after many took to Facebook to voice their outrage with a Muslim leading a prayer before the rodeo.
“This is a business,” Imam Moujahed Bakhach said, “and I don’t want anyone to lose business because of me.”
County Judge Clay Jenkins was the one to invite the two Muslim leaders to pray, saying he wanted to set an example for the people in his community.
“It just made me angry and sad that there are people in this community that mistreat people based on their religious faith,” he said after the prayer.
The event which inspired Judge Jenkins to invite the leaders to pray before the meeting was a rally held by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) last week outside the Capitol. During the rally, many Muslim speakers were interrupted by Christian groups shouting, “We don’t want you here!” and “Go home,” according to the Dallas News.
The rally was held in honor of Texas Muslim Capitol Day. The annual event was the center of some controversy due to recent comments by Republican Representative Molly White, who took to Facebook to say that she put an Israeli flag on her reception desk on that day and told her staff “to ask representatives from the Muslim community to renounce Islamic terrorist groups and publicly announce allegiance to America and our laws,” according to the newspaper.
Tarik Jaffrey, vice president of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of CAIR called the incident “offensive” and praised the county for their response saying “We are an important part of this community’s fabric.”
“We are seeing more and more people from all various religions come to this metroplex,” Judge Jenkins told reporters. “We want it to be an open and welcoming place where people can freely express their faith and do so in a way that doesn’t engender hatred from other people.”