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Picnic gives many first glimpse of new Islamic Center in Afton

Anessa Herzi, 9, and Isir Abdi, 11, show off their stickers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Department during the annual family picnic at the Eastern Twin Cities Islamic Center. The new mosque and community center on Hudson Road in Afton is expected to open in two months. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia1 / 4
Anessa Herzi, 9, and Isir Abdi, 11, enjoy a walkabout during the July 28 annual family picnic at the new masjid (mosque) religious school and community center on Hudson Road in Afton. The event was hosted by the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 2 / 4
Irfan Siddiqui of Woodbury manned the grill during the annual family picnic July 28 at a new Islamic Center on Hudson Road in Afton. The event was hosted by the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. “It’s a labor of love,” Siddiqui said. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 3 / 4
Inam Mahmood of Woodbury chats with Washington County Sheriff Dan Starry during the annual Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro family picnic. The new masjid (mosque) religious school and community center is located on Hudson Road in Afton and is expected to open in two months. William Loeffler / RiverTown Multimedia 4 / 4

Their annual picnic featured hot dogs, burgers, pony rides, a bouncy house and a police vehicle fair, courtesy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

But the main attraction was the venue — the nearly complete masjid (mosque) that will serve as the home of the Islamic Society of Woodbury-East Metro. It's the result of five years of planning and fundraising by the society, who have outgrown their worship space on Commerce Drive in Woodbury.

In 2013, they purchased 29 acres of land on Hudson Road in Afton. The new complex will also include a religious school, math tutoring and a community center for weddings and graduations. They will also have a food shelf that can be accessed by people of all faiths, spokesperson Irfan Ali said.

Some interior construction remains to be completed, he said. There should be an official opening in about two months.

William Loeffler

William Loeffler is a playwright and journalist from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He worked 15 years writing features for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He has also written travel stories based on his trips to all seven continents. He and his wife, Michelle, ran the Boston Marathon in 2009. 

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