Reactions pour in after mosque shootings in New Zealand

Islamic Center of Northeast Florida will hold interfaith service Saturday

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor, Ashley Harding - Reporter

Reaction continues to pour in Friday following a tragic overnight shooting at two separate mosques in New Zealand where at least 49 people were killed.

Across the country, law enforcement agencies are sharing their concerns and thoughts on social media. Many are also talking about security in wake of this tragedy.

At the BOD Islamic Center of Northeast Florida, board member Ashraf Shaikh is shaken and saddened.

"When one person is hurt the entire family is being hurt," Shaikh said. "We are all very shocked and we constantly (reminding) ourselves that we are coming from God and we are all going to return to him."

The Islamic Center issued a statement saying, "We strongly condemn this and any act of terrorism against Muslims and against all religious groups. We thank our faith communities in Jacksonville and around the world who have shown their support during this difficult time."

The center will hold an interfaith service at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Shaikh says when he moved to Jacksonville in 1974 there were only 10 Muslim families in the community. Now there are 15,000.

Grief is never far from the thoughts and memories of those at the mosque. Imom Bilal Malik, minister for the midday service, said his father was assassinated by a terrorist.

The Islamic Center itself also been the victim of Islamophobia after receiving two threats, the most recent five years ago. 

"There is no room for hate. There is no room for terrorism," Shaikh said.

A Christian man who supports the Muslum community said we need to have empathy and show compassion to those who practice other faiths. 

VIDEO: Reactions to mosque shooting in New Zealand

Agencies like the LAPD and the Council on American-Islamic Relations, known as CAIR, have all issued statements following the attacks. 

CAIR has several branches in Florida and has a community safety guide on ways to protect mosques and Islamic centers.

It recommends:

  • Installing alarms and cameras that are connected to local police and fire departments.
  • Limiting the number of public access points.
  • And to make sure doors are solid-core and equipped with deadbolts.
  • Report any and all threats, suspicious persons or packages immediately to police.
  • Post emergency contact information and building floor plans in public areas.
  • Arrange a security committee to work with police on developing long-term security plans, threat  assessments, crisis plans, trainings and drills
  • Hold safety trainings and evacuation drills each year.

To view the full guide, visit CAIR Community Security and Safety Tips.

 

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