Lack of knowledge always begets bigotry. The less you know about a group of people, the easier it is to cast them as villains and perpetually evil.
Education is essential, and although many in the United States might not have come around to the idea, France understands the concept.
Following a string of terrorist attacks in the country by Islamic militants in 2015, mosques in France have opened their doors to non-Muslims to show how the Islam practiced by a normal Muslim is the polar opposite of that preached by extremist outfits.
Organized by French Council of the Muslim Faith, the initiative invites non-Muslims for debates, calligraphy workshops and even for daily prayers.
Also, understanding that love and norms are intertwined concepts, the mosques give out tea and pastries, calling the scheme "a brotherly cup of tea."
The initiative comes days after the first anniversary of the attacks on the headquarters of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and a Jewish supermarket. The tragic attacks gave way to the November Paris attacks, heinous terrorism that killed 130 people in the capital.
"Instead of dwelling on these tragic acts, it seemed more useful and important to celebrate 'the spirit of January 11,'” said CFCM President Anouar Kbibech, referring to the day last year when millions of people took to the streets to rally against terrorism.
French Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve has also lauded the initiative and accepted an invitation from a mosque.
As the country feels suffocated by an air of intolerance and fear, it is today, more than ever, that such community engagement initiatives are needed.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Gonzalo Fuentes