Imam Enchassi refuses to let Trump machine get him down even as mosques are targeted by anti-Muslim terrorists

OKLAHOMA CITY — After anti-Catholic rioters burned several Catholic churches in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1844, New York City’s Catholic Bishop John Hughes warned that if similar attacks were to occur there that “New York City will become another Moscow.”

Several decades earlier The Russian capital had been burned to the ground during Napoleon’s invasion of Russia and it was still in a state of disrepair at that time.

And a somewhat similar note of defiance was made by Oklahoma City Muslim leader Imam Imad Enchassi in his address to his congregation during their Friday prayers last week in response to recent actions by the Trump Administration.

The cleric spoke of how Muslims have been part of the U.S. since its founding, and that many slaves who were brought to the nation were Muslims from West Africa. He told of how the first Muslim ban had been put in place by a slave owner who wrote in the seventeenth Century that he did not want any slaves who prayed five times a day since they were to rebellious, and reminded his listeners that as Muslims they are supposed to pray five times a day.

Enchassi told of how he had grown up in a Palestinian refugee camp in Beirut, Lebanon, and that one of his happiest memories of his time there was when American boxer Muhammad Ali visited the camp and encouraged the young people to be strong in their faith.

Enchassi also spoke of Malcolm X, a man who converted to Islam while in prison and became one of the most dynamic civil-rights leaders in the nation. He relayed how Malcolm X had originally been part of the Nation of Islam that wanted to be separated from whites, but in time his greater understanding of Islam compelled him to reject that narrow reading of his faith and welcome all people regardless of race to the mosque that he opened in New York City before his assassination.

The cleric pointed out that in recent days there have been attacks on both Jewish cemeteries and Muslim mosques and that members of both faiths have joined with Christians to assist those affected by acts of religious violence.

Muslims raised funds to help repair those cemeteries and both Christian and Jews have opened their houses of worship to Muslims whose mosque had been burned.

Enchassi said that he is proud to stand with others of different religious traditions to protect the rights of all citizens.

After he completed his presentation and prayers were completed, the imam met with several representatives of the media and spoke of how the president’s travel ban was aimed at Muslims and also expressed sympathy and solidarity with Hispanic immigrants who feel that they also have been targeted by the Trump Administration.

The cleric said that his wife is Hispanic and that he has grandchildren who are of Native American heritage and that he and his family and his congregation are part of the American rich mosaic of different faiths and traditions and ethnicities.