Security precautions taken at the Washington Islamic Center Friday to prevent disruptions of the services, including the screening of worshipers at the gate, were actions recommended by the security committee of the Center and not solely by Sam Hamod, the center's director.
The bitter internal feud at Washington's Islamic Center heated up again yesterday as Friday prayer services were held under District police guard and representatives of the center's board of governors screened worshippers at the gate, turning away those they believed to be members of a dissident faction.
About 120 who were barred from the mosque held their own prayer service on the north sidewalk of Massachusetts Avenue near the center.
Police said they arrested two persons at the scene. One was charged with unlawful entry and another with crossing the police barricades that had been set up on the sidewalk in front of the center.
Last Monday, observances marking the holy day of Eid were disrupted by demonstrators, and 52 were arrested. After that incident, an executive committee of the center's governing board decided to keep the mosque open for services, said Sam Hamod, the center's director.
Hamod, who was wearing a bulletproof vest yesterday, said it was his idea to set up the screening committee at the gate, where some men were frisked with metal detectors by the center's private police force.
Those turned away appeared angry and resentful, and when an estimated 100 worshippers left the mosque after yesterday's services they were taunted with cries of "Shame on you" and "Kings of the Middle East, Puppets of Imperialism" from the dissidents.
"The American system is cooperating with the tyrannies of the Middle East to repress us in this country," said Mohammad Asi, the imam, or spiritual leader, of the dissident faction.
Asked how the mosque officials knew who to keep out and who to let in, one official explained that there were representatives from various countries in Africa, the Middle East, and the Far East who knew their fellow citizens and which ones were not part of the dissident faction.
In several cases when a person was not known personally by any of the guards at the gate, the decision to allow them in appeared to depend on their dress. Most of those allowed in were wearing suits and ties and several flashed embassy identifications. The majority of those kept out wore casual, open-necked shirts.
No women were allowed inside the mosque yesterday.