Interfaith service at Phoenix mosque draws hundreds

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This sign is up at the Phoenix mosque that will be the site of another rally Monday. (Source: KPHO/KTVK) This sign is up at the Phoenix mosque that will be the site of another rally Monday. (Source: KPHO/KTVK)
(Source: Facebook) (Source: Facebook)
(Source: The Fountains via Facebook) (Source: The Fountains via Facebook)
MESA, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Hundreds of people from a variety of religious backgrounds gathered Monday at the Phoenix mosque that was the site of a controversial anti-Muslim rally last week. Monday's event, however, had a different purpose and was a direct response to what happened there just days earlier.

The eyes of the nation were on Phoenix Friday evening as hundreds of protestors converged on the mosque near Interstate 17 and Northern Avenue. The event was similar to one a few weeks ago in Garland, Texas, where two extremists from Phoenix opened fire and were subsequently killed.

[READ: Protesters gather at Phoenix mosque under close police watch]

[READ: Mohammed cartoon contest: Protest held outside Phoenix mosque]

There was a heavy police presence at Friday's event, billed by the organizer as a "Freedom of Speech Rally." It ended peacefully, and peace is at the heart of Monday's event.

While many people Friday were carrying weapons, organizers of Monday's gathering are asking people to come armed with flowers rather than guns.

"We ask that you bring a FLOWER as a symbol of love and care," reads the Facebook event page. "We are better together, and together we are strong."

Organizers said their goal was to illustrate how their members respond when they are mistreated -- with a message of love, not hate.

"There is more love out there for our neighbors and our families than there is hate," Azra Hussain, one of the organizers, said. "I want everyone to understand that living here in this community means that we have many more supporters than we do people who don't want us to be here."

With nearly two dozen sponsors, the gathering was an interfaith one. Christian and Jewish leaders from all over the Valley joined the Muslim community at the mosque to share messages of love and peace.

"We have to counter hate with love or the haters win," Yasir Shareef, a member of the mosque's board, said before Monday's prayer service. "That's what the Prophet taught us, and you cannot draw that in a cartoon."

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