The idea of an annual Sunday get-together at a North Seattle mosque stemmed from an incident two days after the Sept. 11 attacks.

A man splashed gasoline on cars in the Idriss Mosque parking lot and started to flee. When congregants followed him, he turned and fired shots into the ground. It was the first local hate crime after the attacks.

Neighbors stood watch at the mosque 24 hours a day. Thousands of people came by, flooding the congregation with flowers and cards to show them not everyone was filled with hate.

As part of an ongoing “thank you,” mosque director Hisham Farajallah and others organized a neighborhood barbecue, inviting everyone with hopes they’d break down stereotypes. The first year, about 100 people showed.

On Sunday, the Muslim community welcomed more than 800 throughout the afternoon, including hundreds from outside their congregation.

“This is our goal,” said Farajallah, a Boeing engineer by day. “To get people to know and understand each other.” (MORE)


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