The difference between Islam and Muslims was one of many questions asked at an open day at a Brisbane mosque.
“Can you please take my photo, my daughter will never ever believe I’m in here,” asks Tracey Jaggers.
Entering a mosque for the first time is a huge step for the 50-year-old Brisbane mother.
Ms Jaggers is frightened by Islam because she says a group of Muslim youths once threatened her.
“I deliberately avoid them in the street, they scare the living s*** out of me,” she told AAP.
But Ms Jaggers went to the Holland Park Mosque open day on Thursday to try to understand the community she fears.
Her brief visit to the place of worship in the Brisbane suburb didn’t instantly change her mind, but she plans to continue to try.
“It’s really hard for me with these guys, but it’s a work in progress, I’m willing to be a little bit open minded,” she smiled.
Peter Williamson, who isn’t religious, said he didn’t know about Islam before he came to the mosque.
“I wanted to find out about their thoughts about what’s been going on lately, the way Muslims are being treated doesn’t strike me as being fair,” he told AAP.
Mr Williamson said he’d been concerned about extremism, but he was sure there was no problem with mainstream Islam.
“But that isn’t really Islam, is it, it’s just using the name,” he said.
Holland Park Imam Uzair Akbar and mosque spokesman Ali Kadri were glad that over 100 non-Muslims from the local community had attended the open day at such short notice.
Many people asked questions about topics like the differences between Sunni and Shia Islam to why Muslims wore baggy clothes and even the Imam’s views on same-sex marriage.
One elderly woman even asked if there was a difference between Islam and Muslims.
Imam Uzair and Mr Kadri patiently answered every question, and some of their answers made the crowd smile and clap.
Particularly when Mr Kadri called for unity between Australian Muslims and non-Muslims saying: “our differences should be our strength”.
Imam Uzair also said many extremists were wayward youths who’d been influenced by radical underground centres that weren’t associated with mosques.
“Indeed, those children that have views that may damage the fabric of this countries, the authorities will deal with them,” he said.
“But I say that majority, 99.9 per cent of the Muslim community, including the youth, are very wise and they are understanding.”
Local member Ian Kaye, who’s lived up the road from the mosque his whole life, said it was extremely important to build understanding.
The MP said when community members were concerned about the mosque or that Muslims were “taking over” the area, he always responded the same way.
“I just tell them the mosque and the Muslim community have been (here) over 100 years and they’re completely shocked,” Mr Kaye told AAP.
“It just shows important knowledge is to removing the fear.”