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Huge crowds and warm welcome at Metro's newest mosque

(WOWT)
Published: Jul. 9, 2017 at 7:56 PM CDT
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Thousands of people attended an open house in West Omaha on Sunday afternoon at the American Muslim Institute, the Metro's newest mosque.

Many in the crowd were local Christians and Jews who welcomed the mosque to the community with open arms.

Nada Hazimeh, a volunteer at the Institute, joined dozens of other Muslims answering questions and explaining their faith. Hazimeh told WOWT 6 News: "We need to explain as much as we can about our beliefs and our background and learn to live together."

Karim Khayati, Vice President at the Institute, told WOWT 6 News he thought a few hundred people might turn up to see the mosque and learn about the Muslim faith. Instead the hallways were packed. He said: "This is great because it speaks to what Omaha is all about. This is curiosity, it's about tolerance - it's about acceptance more than tolerance."

Khayati also said he was proud of the new mosque, adding: "It's a place that reflects our core values of acceptance and justice and tolerance."

Among the crowd was Deborah Mabry-Strong, who attends a Methodist Christian church. She told WOWT 6 News: "We are practicing what God wants us to practice... That's the world we want for our children and our grandchildren... No matter what you believe."

Connie Wichman, who also attends a Christian church, attended the open house, as well. She told WOWT 6 News: "It's an example for the whole country, I think, in peace, togetherness, cooperation, and respect."

The American Muslim Institute is part of the Tri-Faith Initiative: a single religious campus with worship centers for people of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian faiths. In addition to the American Muslim Institute, the Tri-Faith campus also includes the synagogue for Temple Israel. Countryside Community Church will build a facility and relocate to the campus, as well.