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SANDY — It's not often that the last prayer of the day inside the Utah Islamic Center is met with a packed audience, but it's happened three times in just as many weeks. Imam Shuaib Din says a sudden surge of interest came surprisingly after the presidential election.
"It was a pleasant surprise, all the warm feelings and cards," Imam Din said. "How much they stood with us, and against hate rhetoric."
He said the mosque received flowers and a stream of positive emails and phone calls.
"Many mosques across America are feeling a surge of visitors coming to the mosque," Imam Din explained. "So this was something good as we see it that came out of the general election."
The imam and other members of the mosque started inviting people to an event they call Meet The Muslims at 7:30 on Friday nights. The fourth and final installment is set for Dec. 9. After the prayer, a brief presentation on Islam is given, followed by a question and answer session hosted by a panel of Muslims, including Imam Din.
"We are so happy that our neighbors and community friends are coming here," Sikandar Sial said, sitting in the crowd. "We are the ones feeling this is home. We are a part of this culture. We are a part of this society."
Imam Din opened the question and answer portion with a line of gratitude.
"First of all, I'd like to thank Donald Trump!" he exclaimed to the response of laughter from the crowd.
Some people there for the first time agreed.
"It's awesome that they're taking advantage of the press, even if it's negative," Kate Hubrich said. "And [to] bring awareness to their religion instead of just letting confusion or lies spread."
Others, like Joe Hoskisson, came to show support for the Islamic community.
"If we don't do anything, they're going to think that maybe a lot of people hate us, because that's kind of the rhetoric," he said.