-- A protester who recently came with anti-Muslim signs to protest at an Islamic center and mosque in Columbus, Ohio, underwent a change of heart.
The protester, who only identified herself as "Annie," arrived at Noor Islamic Cultural Center this past Saturday to picket with signs showing Islamophobic imagery, such as the word "Islam" inside a red circle with a line through it.
The center had been warned by law enforcement that a group calling itself "Global Rally for Humanity" on Facebook had been planning large protests at mosques across the country, including Noor, according to Cynthia de Boutinkhar, one of the center's members.
Though a few "Global Rally for Humanity" protests had "sizeable crowds," many others had minimal attendance, The Guardian reported.
"When I got there, some counter-protesters of different faiths who came to support Noor pointed to a little, tiny crowd of eight, so I thought, 'Only eight people? That's it?" de Boutinkhar told ABC News Wednesday. "But then I was told it was one woman with two signs, and the rest were our group trying to talk to her, so I was like really? Only one person showed up to the protest?"
A nearly 50-minute video captured Annie's attempted protest, and for the the first 40 or so minutes of it, Annie can be expressing her anti-Muslim opinions and refusing attempts made by mosque members and counter-protesters to welcome her into Noor and have some breakfast.
"I told them to make my bacon extra crispy," Annie says sarcastically at one point of the video. At another point, she says she'd "never step foot in a mosque" because "the mosque may blow up" if she comes in.
Though things get heated a few times throughout the first 40 minutes, Annie appears to start relaxing after de Boutinkhar approaches her with open arms and goes in for a hug.
De Boutinkhar added that Annie even began "tearing up."
"I could just feel her getting limp, letting go of all that anger and fear," de Boutinkhar said. "I told her, 'Come on, let's go inside' and she actually started walking. The president of our mosque just looked at me like 'How on earth did you do that?' We'd been trying to convince her to come inside for 40 minutes, and it seems like my hug did something to her."
De Boutinkhar added that while walking down to the mosque, Annie still kept making comments like "I hope I don't burst into flames," but she just responded to Annie with her own jokes.
"We walked in, me carrying one of her two signs, and everyone began applauding in the lobby," de Boutinkhar said. "We took a selfie. The mosque president personally greeted her and welcomed her, offering her food and drink. I joked that I'd taste it for her first."
Annie stayed for over two hours and got a tour of Noor's mosque and other recreational facilities, Noor's president Imran Malik told ABC News Wednesday. He added that he and a few other brothers and sisters from the mosque were able to dispel "a lot of the misinformation" Annie had gotten through the Internet and conservative media sites.
"By the time she left, she changed and seemed to have a much different perception about Islam and the Muslim community," Malik said. "We gave her a few goodies and an English Koran and invited her back anytime."
According to de Boutinkhar's Facebook, Annie's parting words were, "You were all really nice. I don't approve of the violence or killings (neither do we), but I'll read this book. I had no idea Muslims could be nice to me, even after I stood out there with those signs. Sorry."
Annie left without her signs, de Boutinkhar added.