Cars whooshed past the mosque, 8th Avenue and 16th Street, about 11 a.m. as about 50 residents, most from Christian congregations in Greeley and Evans stepped out of their shoes and into an event Mohamed-Mahad Darar called the first of its kind.
“This open house marks a historic event,” Darar said, as he kicked off the open house.
The point of the open house, which officials first discussed about six months ago, was to spread awareness of the Muslim community in Greeley, and to address problems those officials say Muslims and Christians can solve together.
“With the increasing threat of religious bigotry and terrorism from transnational organizations, the Muslim community in Greeley embraces this opportunity to denounce such activities in the strongest possible terms,” Darar said.
Omar Elmagbari, the local imam, said he was happy with the turnout. He shared a simple message.
“We need people to know we are Americans,” Elmagbari said.
Along with talks, the open house featured a video, lunch provided by Najah African Restaurant, a prayer demonstration and a question and answer session.
Don Orange, pastor at Fellowship Christian Reformed Church, presented Elmagbari with a peace lily as one of many Christian leaders who attended the open house.
Jesus says to love your neighbor, Orange said.
Elmagbari’s son, Faraj, a former Greeley West High School, University of Northern Colorado and professional basketball player who is now a successful banker, went a step further, saying he would die for the country that has provided so many opportunities.
Differences are good, Faraj said, because people can learn so much from each other. In a world of more than 6 billion, most of those people are good, Faraj said. He pointed to the attendance at the open house as reason for optimism.
“It really warms my heart for you guys to take the time out of your days to visit our mosque,” Faraj said.