JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The Islamic Center of Northeast Florida's regular open house saw a dramatic increase in community attendance Saturday.
The center's board of trustees chairman Ashraf Shaikh said their monthly event, Explore Islam with your Muslim Neighbors, usually welcomes around 40 non-members, but last weekend 200 free reservations online quickly sold out. Nearly 300 arrived in the center Saturday evening leaving standing room only.
"The love an affection they are showing their neighbors, it's amazing," said Shaikh. "There were several Jewish individuals, several Christians, all faiths and denominations, all in the same place praying to the same God Almighty."
Many attendees were compelled to actively show support following a controversial executive order, banning refugee and immigrant travel from seven Muslim majority countries.
Shaikh says ICNEF won't comment on the political policies of any country, but he says their members have noticed an uptick in acts of kindness from the community since the announcement on the ban.
"Many of our families have family members overseas and they are hesitant to travel," said Shaikh. "Many of them have green cards and they don't know if they'll be able to come back, they are changing travel plans left and right."
The community event happens monthly on the first Saturday of the month and includes a tour of the center, and Q&A presentation on the Islamic faith and traditions.