Over the years, the Dar Al-Hijrah Islamic Center, a mosque in suburban Virginia, down the road from a Sears, has welcomed some noteworthy congregants: alleged Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Hasan, some of the 9/11 hijackers, and Yemeni al-Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki—said to be an inspiring figure to both Hasan and alleged Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad.
This past weekend, though, six Muslim women and I received a very different kind of greeting. As part of a grassroots civil rights movement we call "Pray In," we walked through the front door of the mosque instead of a dingy back door designated for women. In the cavernous main hall we attempted to exercise our Islamic right to pray behind the men, instead of in the secluded "sisters' section." Some of us wore pink head scarves, the color we've chosen to symoblize our "pink pray-in" movement of Islamic feminism.
"Get out of here!" a man from the congregation yelled, lunging toward us, before being restrained by other men.