PARKER, Colo., March 20 -- Two Denver radio personalities and a listener faced charges Wednesday for walking into an Islamic mosque wearing Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf shirts and playing the national anthem on musical instruments. The trio, in a stunt staged Tuesday by the KBPI-FM morning show, played the anthem live on the air and tried to elicit comments from worshippers who had gone to the mosque to pray, said Colorado Muslim Society spokesman Mohamed Kharrubi. 'They switched on their (sound) system -- they had equipment and musical instruments -- and played what sounded like the national anthem live on the air,' Kharrubi said. The three stayed in the mosque for about 15 minutes and were on the air the entire time, refusing to remove their shoes which are forbidden in mosques. One wore a turban, the spokesman said. Donning Abdul-Rauf shirts was an apparent sartorial reference to last week's flap over the refusal by the Denver Nuggets basketball star, a devout Muslim, to stand for the national anthem before games. The radio station issued a statement apologizing for the episode, saying the KBPI morning show used 'extremely poor judgement' when it sent the trio out of the station to carry out the prank. 'As an ill-conceived attempt at humor, our on-air announcers played the national anthem on the steps of the state Capitol building, a light rail train and inside a local mosque,' the statement said. The employees involved have been suspended without pay for the incident, which was not authorized by station management, said KBPI operations manager Jack Evans.
One of those involved was KBPI air personality Joey Teehan, identified through a business card he left behind at the mosque. They will be served Thursday with misdemeanor summonses charging third degree criminal trespass and harassment, said Capt. Grayson Robinson of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's Department Abdul-Rauf was suspended by the NBA March 13 for violating league rules, but two days later changed his mind and now stands for the anthem. He described his refusal to stand as a protest against what he says is 'oppression and tyranny' in the United States. When the matter surfaced and made headlines around the world, opinions ranged from outrage and calls for deportation to support for Abdul-Rauf, who converted to Islam in 1991. Since Abdul Rauf's change of heart, however, the controversy seemed to simmer down, except for scattered boos from fans at Nuggets road games in Chicago and Detroit.