MERIDEN -- Dozens of people gathered at the Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden to pray for peace and to remember the lives lost in the attacks in San Bernardino, California. The prayers happened at the same mosque where, just three weeks ago after the Paris attacks, a shooter fired several rounds into the building prompting an FBI investigation.
"We thank God that nobody was here but we're not afraid to come back," said Zahir Mannan, a member of the mosque. He, along with the rest of the congregation, say they were shocked after hearing about the California attacks.
"I was really disturbed being a father and a husband. That's why we're the first to condemn this and we're trying to lead by example that other Muslims should stand up and join us. This is a time to disregard and overlook our differences and unite in a similar cause," said Mannan.
Bullet holes were still visible in the walls Friday evening, but the group says it won't be intimidated. "Honestly, to us, it's just a couple of holes in the wall and it was a blessing in disguise because everybody came together, of course we're heightening security and taking precautions," said Mannan.
Members say the actions of a few disturbed people is not indicative of Islam or the people who follow it and that the mosque members will do more to reach out to the community.
"These terrorists that are doing these kinds of activities are not representing Islam," said Wajid Ahmed, the community outreach director for the mosque. "I like to really make sure that we're reaching out to the community and building bridges and having bread together and understanding what we're all about and really coming together under one humanity."