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Peaceful Gathering Outside Mosque

SUNBURY -- A peaceful gathering was held Friday afternoon outside the Sunbury Islamic Center. The gathering was meant to show solidarity after racist fliers were posted on the mosque earlier this week.

More than 50 people gathered at the corner of 4th and Arch Streets in Sunbury. Some had signs asking for peace, and everyone cheered when the Muslim men and women walked inside the mosque for their prayers.

Muslim men and women gather inside the Sunbury Islamic Center to pray at 1:30 p.m. every Friday. But this time when they arrived, they were greeted by members of their community.

"We just wanted to make sure that they were safe walking in and knew that we loved them," Reverend Ann Keeler Evans said.

The Reverend Ann Keeler Evans is the minister at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Susquehanna Valley in Northumberland. She and other religious leaders organized this peaceful gathering after there were racist fliers put up at the mosque earlier in the week.

"It was deeply disappointing," Ed Oberholtzer said.

"We don't all agree. There's a guy over there who has opinions as he said that couldn't be further from mine politically. But he's here because it's wrong that we're neighbors and neighbors deserve a place to be," Keeler Evans said.

This board outside the mosque is one of the places where some of the posters were put up. Instead of the hateful images, people are putting up stickers with hearts and flowers.

"I think it's a great way to show love because they need some more love over here," Lucy Gustafson said.

Some people who drove by beeped at the group to show support, the people Newswatch 16 spoke with say when they heard about the fliers, they knew they had to be here.

"To join together with people and stand up for the freedom of religion," Oberholtzer said.

"When we saw that there was a member of our human family being oppressed it just felt like we had to be here and protect and uphold them," Kimberly Eaton said.

The Muslim men and women thanked the people who attended the gathering and said they appreciate their support.

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