Before the ribbon was cut Sunday afternoon, staff and supporters of SHAMS Clinic on Frankford Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia began the grand opening celebration with a prayer from the Koran.
Speaking in part about the diversity of the city's languages and colors, the prayer seemed to echo the mission of the clinic itself: It is open to everyone who needs it, but members of the all-volunteer staff make no apology about being Muslim, and their connection to an Islamic service organization.
When the plans were first unveiled, some neighborhood residents were wary of the clinic, which is part of the national organization, Islamic Circle of North America or ICNA. A few made themselves known to City Councilman Bobby Henon, whose Northeast Philadelphia district includes the Holmesburg neighborhood where SHAMS is located. They made Facebook posts and angry phone calls expressing concern over what exactly would be happening at the clinic. Some were outright bigoted, he said.