DNC Imam: Muslims, Christians Have Much in Common

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Democratic National Convention will be packed with a variety of events. But none may be as controversial as a Muslim prayer rally.

The Bureau of Indigenous Muslim Affairs coordinated the program titled, "Jumah at the DNC." The events, which are expected to draw up to 20,000 Muslims, will include everything from prayer, to a regal banquet and a cultural festival.

In advance of the convention, Muslim men and women gathered to pray at a Charlotte, N.C., park.

"It's important to me to show that I am a Muslim like everybody else, live in this great country, the Christian, Jewish, atheist, anything to show who I am. It's my identity as a Muslim," Nedal Mefleh, one of those attending the park prayer meeting, told CBN News.

The message, delivered by Imam Siraj Wahhaj, focused on his belief that Muslims have much in common with Christians and Jews.

"If they knew how much we loved Jesus," he preached, "they wouldn't criticize."

He told the Muslim audience their numbers are growing in America and predicted that New York City would soon have a Muslim mayor.

The event raised concerns in Charlotte and across the country -- not because of the public display of prayer, but because of the Muslim leaders behind it.

"This event is not being organized by peace-loving, pro-American, moderate Muslims," CBN News Terrorism Analyst Erick Stakelbeck said.

"The organizers of this event are on record praising Islamic Sharia law, placing Sharia above the U.S. Constitution, placing their loyalty to Islam above their loyalty to America," he explained. "This is a troubling thing for the DNC to kind of get in bed with this kind of element of the Muslim community."

Jumah organizer Jabril Hough didn't entirely deny the charge.

"I'm not going to sit here and say that there are not maybe a handful of Muslims who have that vision," he said. "But I do not seek to do that and not any Muslims that I know or that I'm aware of are seeking to do that."

"We're seeking to make the Constitution work," he continued. "I don't think that would be a wise move. It's not necessary."

"If the Constitution didn't work, it might be a need to do something else, but the Constitution is working and sometimes it doesn't work the way we see fit and we have to work more and get more involved in the political system," he said.

A handful of Christian activists held signs on the edge of the park. After the Muslim prayers ended, one man preached the gospel, to the dismay of one Muslim man.

"If Muslims went to their church and blessed the Koran like this, it would be a riot," he said.

Although the Jumah was associated with the DNC, Hough, who supports Texas Rep. Ron Paul, said Muslims are diverse in their political views.

The Muslims who attended the Jumah made it clear they're not trying to push their faith or way of life on anyone but say Americans should expect to see displays like this more often.

"The time of isolation and the time of keeping Muslims on the side or denying who we are is passed," Hough said.

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Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.