US, Washington: Yesterday, the President of United States (US) Barack Obama addressed the National Prayer Breakfast to urging followers of all religions to overcome the fear that divides people in the name of faith. Pakistani politicians team including Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Sherry Rehman and Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal also attended the annual event, which brings people from across the globe to pray for religious harmony and peace.
President said, “Fear can lead us to lash out against those who are different or lead us to try to get some sinister ‘other’ under control”, making a veiled reference to anti-Muslim sentiments in the Western world. “Alternatively, fear can lead us to succumb to despair or paralysis or cynicism,” he said. “Fear can feed our most selfish impulses and erode the bonds of community.”
President, who describes himself as a man of faith, told more than three thousands people who attended the prayer session how to overcome fear. He added, “Faith is the great cure for fear”. The prayer breakfast, although organised by a Christian group and co-chaired by members of Congress, brings together people of all faiths. During their three-day stay in Washington, the participants attend a series of lectures and seminars aimed at promoting interfaith dialogue.
This year, one of the hosts, and former speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi quoted Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) in her prayers. “We know that this message, this command of love, is not confined to New Testament,” she said. “The same message stands at the centre of the Torah and the teachings of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) too.”
President said that on Wednesday he visited a mosque in Baltimore to “let our Muslim-American brothers and sisters know that they, too, are Americans and welcome here.” At the mosque he met a Muslim-American, Rami Nashashibi, from Chicago who told him how the day after the terrorist attack in San Bernardino, he took his three young children to a playground and when the time came for one of the five daily prayers, he was afraid to pray. “On any other day, he would have immediately put his rug out on the grass right there and prayed,” President said.