Muslim Mosques, Community Centers Increase Security Following New Zealand Mass Shootings

Bernie Tafoya
March 15, 2019 - 8:37 am

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The Muslim Community in Chicago is reacting Friday morning to the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques that left at least 49 people dead.

Muslim organizations and community centers are seeking increased security. 

The Muslim Community Center, located in the 4300 block of Elston Avenue, plans to hire extra security and has asked police in Chicago, Morton Grove, and Skokie for extra patrols. The center urges people to be aware of their surroundings and to above all, trust in Alla. 

In a statement, MCC President Kamran Hussain said, "Late last night we were horror-stricken to hear the news of the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques during Jummah Prayers. Our heartfelt Duas go out to all of the victims, their families and the Muslim communities that have been tragically affected by the gunmen who killed our brothers and sisters half way across the world.

"We have notified our local police departments in Chicago, Morton Grove and Skokie and requested extra patrolling the next few days, especially during our busiest hours on Fridays and school times. We will also be hiring extra security personell to patrol in and around the building as well. Please be vigilant by keeping your eyes and ears open and being aware of your surroundings. Report any suspicious activities to security staff or the police and help your fellow brothers and sisters if they require assistance. And most important, always trust in Allah (swt)."

After Friday morning's prayers, one man reacted to the massacre by saying, "it's a sad say for everybody. It's a very sad day, not just for us, but for everybody, all mankind."

The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) - Chicago said Muslims should be vigilant, especially during Friday's prayers. 

“As the details of the story continue to develop, we urge all of our community members to be vigilant, especially while attending Friday prayers and for our mosques and center to take increased security precautions, CAIR-Chicago wrote in a statement. "The horrific active shooter scenario at a mosque is something we all pray never happens, there is no active intelligence that there is any immediate threat in the U.S. But we cannot be complacent."

CAIR-Chicago continued by urging mosques and worshippers to contact local law enforcement to ask for increased patrols, notify mosque leadership to raise awareness and be on the look out for any suspicious behavior.

Chicago Police said special attention will be given to Chicago mosques as a precaution. They released a statement on Twitter reading, "Our deepest condolences to all affected by the tragic #NewZealandShooting. People of interest have been taken into custody from that horrific incident & there are no known threats to the city of Chicago."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel put out a statement Friday on the mass shootings:

"An attack on any place of worship is an attack on all places of worship. It shouldn't be lost on anyone that, following the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the first community that spoke up and offered support was the Muslim community. The first group that offered financial support was the Muslim community. I want all of our Muslim brothers and sisters to know that Chicago welcomes them and welcomes their sincerity of prayer for our common humanity."

Related: Mass Shootings At New Zealand Mosques Kill 49; 1 Man Charged

Congressman Dan Lipinski released Friday the following statement on the mass shootings:

“My thoughts and prayers are with all those impacted by the grisly massacres at the mosques in New Zealand.  This is a painful reminder of the horrors that can be motivated by all forms of hatred, this time white supremacy. I have reached out to the two large mosques in my district, The Prayer Center in Orland Park and the Bridgeview Mosque Foundation, to express my support and offer any help they may need with security. Let this be a reminder to all of us to pray and work every day for peace and a recognition of the dignity of every individual no matter our differences.”

The Cook County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management is asking members of the public to be on the lookout for suspicious behavior, including vehicles parked in odd locations or unattended packages or bags.

“Our residents are our first line of defense in identifying and reporting any threats to public safety,” DHSEM Executive Director William Barnes, said in a statement. “Always be aware of your surroundings and do not hesitate to alert authorities to anything that appears unusual or out of place.”

The first attack took place at the Masjid Al Noor mosque in central Christchurch at about 1:45 p.m., when 41 people were killed. The second shooting took place at the Linwood Masjid Mosque, where at least seven people were killed.

Police took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings. One person was later released, and one man was arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned racist attack. Police also defused explosive devices in a car.

Authorities have not specified who they detained, but said none had been on any watch list. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the attacks represented "an extraordinary and unprecedented act of violence," and called it "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

In addition to the dead, she said more than 20 people were seriously wounded.