Across Eastern Massachusetts Sunday, Muslims gathered, shoulder to shoulder, to begin afternoon prayers. But at the back of the room at the Islamic Society of Boston Cultural Center in Roxbury, a crowd of Christians, Jews, agnostics, and atheists had gathered to observe.

On the first Massachusetts Open Mosque Day, hundreds of non-Muslims attended the center and 17 other area mosques to observe religious practices and ask questions about the faith and its perception.

"We need to engage in genuine community, camaraderie, fraternity, sorority: people coming together, learning about their cultures, their backgrounds, what people are struggling with," said Sheikh Yasir Fahmy, the senior imam at the cultural center, in an interview.

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