Community open house planned Saturday at Islamic Center

Members of the Lawrence and University of Kansas Muslim community are planning a “neighborly” event this weekend.

A community open house is set for 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday at Islamic Center of Lawrence, 1917 Naismith Drive. The event, which is free and open to the public, is hosted by the Islamic Center of Lawrence and the KU Muslim Student Association.

Men kneel for afternoon prayer on Friday, Sept. 3, 2010, at the Islamic Center of Lawrence. Many Muslims in Lawrence say the city’s diverse cultural makeup makes it very accepting of different faiths.

Lahsen Jakmouj, the board director of Islamic Center Lawrence, said the center has hosted such an event before but that it’s been several years.

“We are trying to make it an annual event,” he said.

The goal is to get to know the community, build bridges, have dialogue and “act like neighbors,” he said.

Jakmouj said that he personally has not experienced hostility, nor have his children who attend Lawrence public schools. However, he said he has heard that some members of the Muslim community have, particularly since last year’s presidential election.

“There’s a lot of people that have felt empowered to just go ahead and insult people from different places and different ethnic groups,” he said. “We’re trying to just basically build bridges with Lawrence and our surrounding communities.”