Islamic Center of Washington, United States of America
The Islamic Center of Washington is a mosque and Islamic cultural center in Washington, D.C., United States. It is located on Embassy Row on Massachusetts Avenue just east of the bridge over Rock Creek. When it opened in 1957 it was the largest Muslim place of worship in the Western Hemisphere. Some 6000 people attend prayers there each Friday.
The center was originally conceived in 1944 when the Turkish ambassador Münir Ertegün died and there was no mosque to hold his funeral in. The Washington diplomatic community played a leading role in the effort to have a mosque constructed. Support came from most of the Islamic nations of the world who donated money, decorations, and craftsmen to the project. Support for the project also came from the American-Muslim community. The site was purchased in 1946 and the corner stone was laid on January 11, 1949. The building was designed by Italian architect Mario Rossi and was dedicated on June 28 1957 with President Dwight D. Eisenhower in attendance. The main prayer hall of the center is covered by Persian carpets dedicated by the late Shah of Iran. The center continues to be controlled by a board of governors made up of various ambassadors. Around the building are arrayed the flags of the Islamic nations of the world.
The mosque has been visited by many high profile dignitaries, including several presidents. The highest profile visit was by President George W. Bush on September 17 2001 only days after the attacks of September 11.On national television, Bush quoted from the Koran and worked to assure Americans that vast majority of Muslims are peaceful.
In addition to the mosque, the center contains a library and classrooms where courses on Islam and the Arabic language are taught.
The mosque was one of three buildings taken over in the 1977 Hanafi Siege. Muslim gunmen holding hostages made several demands, including the demand that the movie Mohammad, Messenger of God be destroyed because they considered it sacrilegious.”