DENVER - At the Denver Islamic Society, neighbors like Karen Jefferson are invited to come in and experience what Muslims are really like as opposed to what some people say on TV and social media.
"I came because of all the craziness that's been going on. All of the people talking without really thinking about what they're saying," Jefferson said.
Jefferson says she's driven by the mosque a few times and was curious about it. The Denver Islamic Society hosted its first open house Saturday afternoon.
"It's our duty to reach out with our fellow neighbors and citizens and members of our community," Imam ShemsAdeen Ben-Masaud said. "It's part of our getting out and not allowing outside forces to dictate what is being said about Islam and Muslims."
Jefferson and other visitors had the chance to ask questions about Islam traditions and customs while also learning about the similarities between Islam, Christianity, and Judaism.
"These are opportunities for us to show our faces as normal members of the community," Imam Ben-Masaud said.
Jefferson says she wants to be part of the effort to change the way some people think about Islam in America.
"Came as a person willing to build bridges and to basically say I am intolerant of intolerance," Jefferson said. "I really wanted to come here and be a friendly face and say not everybody that lives in Denver or Colorado or the United States is afraid of you."
Imam Ben-Masaud told people to "grab a Muslim" to have a conversation and get to know one another. People shared stories, shared a meal, and shared an understanding that these Muslims have a reason to hate the terrorists, too.
"By far, the number, the largest number of casualties by ISIS and these other extremist groups have been Muslim casualties," Imam Ben-Masaud said.
The Imam says this initial open house was planned before the attacks in Paris. But, he says considering the attacks this event was important. The Denver Islamic Society plans to hold an open house during every third Saturday of the month.
"This is really a happy and positive thing for us that we would see so that we would see so many people attend an open house and really be on the same page with us," Imam Ben-Masaud said.
Jefferson says the open house is a good way for people to overcome their fears and drop their assumptions.
"I'm glad that they had the open house. I'm glad I was aware of it. I probably wouldn't have sought it out on my own," Jefferson said.
(© 2015 KUSA)