- The Washington Times - Friday, December 4, 2015

A handful of House Democrats are expected to meet Friday afternoon at a Northern Virginia mosque that has reported ties to terrorists.

The Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center in Falls Church is where Anwar al-Awlaki, an accused recruiter for al Qaeda who was killed in 2011 by a U.S. drone strike, was an imam at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. It was also widely reported that some of 9/11 hijackers attended the mosque, and that Fort Hood shooter Nidal Hasan worshipped there, the Washington Examiner reported.

Democratic Reps. Don Beyer of Virginia, Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Joe Crowley of New York sent a letter to colleagues this week urging them to join in showing “our ability to rise up collectively against” Islamophobia, The New York Times reported.

“Intolerance and hatred have no place in American society,” Mr. Beyer said. “We are a diverse nation of immigrants whose shared cultural heritage is one of openness and inclusion. We must celebrate this diverse thread of our cultural cloth, not tear it apart.”

As of Thursday, only District of Columbia Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, Rep. Betty McCollum, Democrat of Minnesota and a handful of Virginia Democratic lawmakers had said they would join Mr. Beyer at Dar Al-Hijrah. Mr. Ellison and Mr. Crowley were planning to attend prayer services in their districts, The Times reported.

The visits were planned on Monday, two days before a married Muslim couple killed 14 people at a social services center in San Bernardino, California.

“Yesterday does make it a little harder,” Mr. Beyer told The Times on Thursday. “It’s just another unfortunate data point. So, I think it’s more necessary than ever to go talk to the people who have nothing to do with that.”

Last month, Fairfax County authorities charged a man with leaving a fake bomb at the mosque. A representative of the mosque said many Muslims in the area have felt “under siege” over the last few weeks, the Examiner reported.

“Women taking their children to school have been heckled by passersby, and we experienced two incidences of hate violence,” Imam Johari Abdul-Malik told the Exmainer. “It is with the support of good neighbors like Congressmen Beyer, Ellison and Crowley that we carry on knowing that our future will be brighter.”

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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