Posted on September 9, 2010

City Council May Pull Plug on Muslim Prayer Idea

Bob Connors, WVIT-TV (West Hartford, Connecticut), September 8, 2010

The Hartford City Council is reconsidering its proposal to have local imams perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of council meetings in September.

Council President rJo Winch called a news conference Wednesday to address the uproar over the proposal she supported Tuesday.


But since a story was posted on, Winch and other council members said they have received numerous complaints and even some hate emails over the decision to begin the meetings with Muslim prayers.

“Where is the separation between church and state?,” wrote one anonymous reader. “Why not an act of solidarity with your New York City American brothers and sisters who were attacked on 9/11?,” wrote another.


Although the council does say a prayer before every meeting, Winch says she’s reconsidering the idea of the Muslim prayers so close to the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. She instead said she would consider an interfaith prayer before next Monday’s meeting.

“There might be 20 different faiths there on that day because, I understand his position, we have to understand we live in a multicultural city and there are 125,000 residents here so we don’t want to have anyone be offended,” Winch said.

That idea, however didn’t sit well with Council Minority Leader Luis Cotto, the council member who originally made the proposal to ask the imams to perform the invocations. Cotto said he had no problem with the timing of the proposal. “I thought that doing this in September or at the next meeting, which happens to be September, makes sense, and I still do,” Cotto said.

Local Islamic leaders were also not happy about Winch’s apparent backtracking{snip}. Imam Kashif Abdul-Karim {snip} said he plans to be at City Hall Monday to say the prayer.

In the wake of the battle over a mosque at Ground Zero, a move by the Hartford City Council is sure to have its critics.

The Council announced Tuesday that it has invited local imams to perform Islamic invocations at the beginning of the Council meetings in September.

An e-mail from the Common Council called it “an act of solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters.”


Council President rJo Winch called it an important move for the Council.

“I feel it is very important that, as a Council, we project a culture of inclusiveness in the City of Hartford. Too often it is our differences that divide us. In my opinion, it is our combination of differences that makes us strong,” Winch said.