Source: The Hartford Courant
Laurie and Stephen Janecko could have spent Saturday afternoon swimming in their pool.
Instead, the Roman Catholic couple from East Hartford chose to mingle among 15,000 Muslims - most of the women covered in head scarves or full-length veils - gathered for a convention in Hartford.
This is the third year that the Muslim group, the Islamic Circle of North America, has held its annual convention in Hartford. Families mostly from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania crowded the Connecticut Convention Center to shop at a huge bazaar and attend seminars on topics including "what you need to know before you get married" and "Muslim teen rebellion: causes and solutions."
For the first time, the group opened its doors to non-Muslims in an effort to dispel suspicion and misconceptions about the faith and its followers, especially in the wake of the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and last week's bombing attempts in Great Britain.
With about 100 other non-Muslim guests, the Janeckos were invited to observe as the faithful faced the direction of Mecca and bowed for prayers, dine on a Halal lunch of lentils and curried chicken and learn that they as Christians share many traditions with the followers of Muhammad.