Let These Women Pray

In an uprising reminiscent of the lunch-counter protests of the 1960s, women at one of Washington D.C.'s most popular mosques are copying the tactics of the civil-rights movement, and refusing to follow rules that ban them from praying with the men. Asra Q. Nomani on the arrest threats and outrage that followed.

Shibli Nomani

Shibli Nomani

The Islamic Center of Washington.

Shibli Nomani

Fatima Thompson leads protesters through the gates of the Islamic Center of Washington om February, 2010, accompanied by Jannah bint Hanna, Naila Abdul Qayyum, and Women eNews journalist Julia Marsh.

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Three American-Muslim women converts (right) protest gender segregation by praying in the main prayer hall. Two supporters stand beside them.

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The front of the Islamic Center of Washington, where the imam prays.

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A seven-foot-high partition wall separates the section designated for women in the main prayer hall of the Islamic Center of Washington.

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Three American-Muslim women converts pray in the rear of the main prayer hall, the wooden partition for the women's section to their right. Supporter Kareem Elbayer looks back towards them.

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The three American-Muslim converts and two of their supporters create a women's prayer line in the front for the congregational prayer. Women and children from a tour group of about 100 Muslims from the Islamic Society of Western Maryland join the prayer line, not realizing that it's a protest.

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Washington, D.C. police officer R.S. Lowery Jr. stands by after he told protesters they had to leave the mosque or face arrest. A mosque official stands in the foreground.

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Protesters and police outside the Islamic Center of Washington.