NEW HAVEN, CT (WFSB) - Community leaders and faith members stood up to hate on Friday in New Haven, during a rally and prayer service.
Their gathering comes less than a week after an intentionally set fire at the Diyanet Mosque on Middletown Avenue in New Haven.
Senator Richard Blumenthal stopped by the mosque on Friday morning to offer his support.
He's also joining local lawmakers in pushing to restore federal funding that would allow non-profits, like houses of worship, to use that money to make security upgrades.
They said it will help create a sense resiliency and protection at church, synagogues and mosques across the state. It would also establish a competitive grant program similar to one for schools for the installation of security measures like remote door entry systems, video monitoring and shatter-proof windows.
New Haven's fire chief said the city is also rolling out a new program, reaching out to houses of worship across the city to make sure they're prepared if faced with a fire.
“Some of it has to do with making sure there is clear visibility to your property, knowing who’s on the property, increasing lighting, getting surveillance cameras installed, checking smoke detectors," Fire Chief John Alston said.
A $2,500 reward from the city, and another $10,000 reward from CAIR (Council on American-Islamic Relations) board members are being offered for information leading to an arrest in the case.
Gov. Ned Lamont called the fire a disgusting, hate-fueled attack.
Faith leaders said the goal in moving forward is to learn from each other and prevent the seed of hatred from taking root in Connecticut.
“It means a lot to be able to come back here and still worship as we usually do, the usual Friday, its like we’re unfazed by the hate," said Muhammed Celeba, of North Haven.
While the mosque members are thankful for all of the support and offers from churches and synagogues to use their worship spaces, they want to be at their location.
“This is home, my home. I go home, sleep, but I have meeting rooms here, congregation, my guests, this is my home," said Haydar Elevli, of New Haven's Diyanet Mosque.
The members of the mosque vow to keep it that way.
“We’re going to keep going. We’re not going to stop, going to keep praying with everyone," said Yasin Uzun, of North Haven.