In 1977, before the Internet and some of our readers were born, a group of 12 Hanafi Muslims conducted coordinated raids on several Washington, DC buildings taking more than 100 hostages and killing two people and wounding future mayor Marion Barry.
A 2007 report from David Statter at 9NEWS NOW, Hanafi Siege: 30 Years Later:
Thirty years ago on March 9th, much of downtown Washington came to a standstill. Armed men had stormed B’nai Brith Headquarters at Scott Circle, The Islamic Center on Massachusetts Avenue and later the District Building.
More than 100 people were held hostage by 12 Hanafi Muslims. Killed in the takeover, a young radio reporter and a security guard. Wounded, with a bullet in his chest, then council member Marion Barry.
The siege was an attempt to avenge the 1973 deaths of 7 members of Hanafi leader Hamas Abdul Khalis’s family. This occurred at Khalis’s home, the Hanafi Muslim Center, on 16th Street, Northwest.
Much of the 38 hour long drama played out on television. Khalis was in contact with Channel 9 from B’nai Brith and gave his demands over the phone to anchorman Max Robinson.
Former WTOP Radio & TV reporter Alan Grip was a city spokesman at the time of the siege. WTOP Radio’s Steve Thompson talked with Grip as he was held hostage at the District Building.
Some of the reporters and anchors who contributed to our coverage in 1977 have gone on to long careers in local and network television. They include, JC Hayward, Bruce Johnson, Mike Buchanan, Gordon Peterson, Pat Collins, Susan King, Andrea Mitchell, Bob Strickland, and Steve Gendel.
A Washington Post report included this:
One of the captors told them that “if anyone does anything wrong, he’ll cut their head and throw it out of the window,” she recalled.
The group’s leader demanded that the movie “Mohammid, The Messenger” (released as The Message in English) be banned for sacrilege and blasphemy.
The primary demand of the Muslim group called for the release of several Nation of Islam members who had been convicted of brutally killing family members of the hostage taker’s leader. It is believed that the NOI convicts were to be executed upon being handed over.
The group had other demands as well, ranted about Jews, and the first building seized was B’nai B’rith International headquarters. See the original NBC4 report below (update: the link no longer works, here is the archived link).
This incident may require more analysis as it may be among the first acts of capitulation to Islamic terrorism (home grown at that) in the United States.
Back to the movie (which is on utube). Muhammid’s picture and voice were forbidden from being depicted so the story is told from Mo’s uncle’s point of view, played by Anthony Quinn. Other interesting details include the fact that the movie was banned from several Mid-East countries because Muslim leaders “didn’t like the idea of having the Prophet Mohammed’s story being made into a motion picture,” even though the movie was approved for accuracy by The University of Al-Azhar in Cairo and the High Islamic Congress of the Shiat in Lebanon. The movie was also financed by none other than Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi. IMDB has details.
The siege was also captured in song by Joni Mitchell whose 1977 single “Otis and Marlena” includes several refrains of “while Muslims stick up Washington.” (tried to load mp3 but can’t do mp3s here)
Thirty (plus) years later, Muslims are still raging over movies, still taking hostages, and still sticking up Washington. Where will we be in another thirty years?
Update: More on the Hanafi Siege and the role of the media.
Note: Originally posted in April, 2008 as “Fitna Not First Movie Muslims Rage Over” (modified and updated since).
Geert Wilders’ Fitna may be a new topic to many, but it is not the first movie Muslims have raged over.