An opening prayer reading from the Quran at the Delaware Senate drew a sharp rebuke from a Republican lawmaker, who said the Muslim holy book calls for the death of Americans.
Two representatives from the Tarbiyah Mosque in Newark were invited to Wednesday's session to deliver the prayer. They began with an Arabic chant before reading a prayer in English based on a Quranic verse but with references to Allah removed.
Republican Sens. Dave Lawson and Colin Bonini walked out of the chamber before the prayer.
Lawson rose afterward to speak, calling what happened "despicable."
"We are in the shadows of the Dover Air Force Base morgue and our people are being killed and coming here by these people and they're not being killed by prison," Lawson later told NBC10.
Democratic President Pro Tem David McBride later took Lawson to task, saying he was personally offended that the Muslim guests would not feel welcomed.
One of the guests told NBC10 he doesn't want his children to live in fear.
"I am as American, as patriot, as anybody else," Dr. Naveed Baqir of the Delaware Council on Global and Muslim Affairs told NBC10. "What am I supposed to do for my children, what am I supposed to teach them? Am i supposed to teach them that they have to live in fear? Do I have to tell them they have to grow up thinking they will be be mistrusted and nobody will trust them? That's not fair."
Lawson said he would except an invitation from Baqir to talk out their differences but that his concern of the direction of the country would likely not change his opinion.
"I have a deep concern for the welfare of this country and where it is going and where my grandchildren will have to live," the Kent County senator said. "And if it's under Muslim rule, then I've failed."