Inside the mosque

Tariq Serag, right speaks as Adnan Bhat, second from right listens along with others during an open mosque day at the Kelowna Islamic Centre on Saturday.

UBC Okanagan’s Muslim Students’ Association welcomed people of all faiths and backgrounds to the Kelowna Islamic Centre on Saturday for Open Mosque Day.

Dozens of people came to the centre to learn more about Islam and Muslims and to visit the mosque.

“(The goal is) to bridge the gap between Muslims and non-Muslims, and to boost the mutual understanding and respect between each other,” said Adnan Bhat, member of the Muslim Students’ Association and organizer of the event.

“People are often fearful of what they don’t know, so by allowing them to come to the mosque, we allow them to understand us as much as they can, hence getting rid of any skepticism around Muslims or mosques in general.”

The Open Mosque Day allowed people to ask questions about Islam and Muslims and to witness Muslim prayers.

After the recent terrorist attacks in

Paris and backlash against Muslims, Bhat said he feels a responsibility to share the truth about Muslims.

“I don’t think Muslims should have to necessarily clarify our faith, but it is the situation,” he said.

“The ideal case would be people understand Muslims have nothing to do with terrorism, but that’s not the case, hence putting us in this position.”

Bhat said he hopes having open conversations and inviting people into the mosque will help eliminate some of those stereotypes.

“Muslims have been telling people what we are not, especially in the last 15 years, but we want to change that and let people know who we are, not who we are not.”

Kyla Gowenlock was one of the people to visit the mosque on Saturday with her nine-month-old son.

Gowenlock is working with a group of people who are sponsoring Syrian refugees in town, so she wanted to come and experience the Islamic faith firsthand.

Seeing how many other people were also interested in seeing the mosque and learning more about Muslims was encouraging, she said.

“Seeing that people are interested (and that) the Muslims in town are open to having us here and building more of a partnership is nice to see,” she said.

Laura Green also stopped into the mosque to learn more about the Muslim people in Kelowna.

“The Islam religion is in the news at the moment, and I just wanted to come and see what they were discussing here about his mosque in particular and their presence in Kelowna,” she said.

Green also wanted to show her support for the mosque and the local Muslim community.

“This is just a way to learn more and connect with people and show my support for them,” she said.

The Kelowna Islamic Centre is located at 1120 Highway 33.

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