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Atlanta-area Islamic leaders condemn bigotry following massacre in New Zealand

Atlanta-area Islamic leaders condemn bigotry following massacre in New Zealand

Atlanta-area Islamic leaders condemn bigotry following massacre in New Zealand
Photo Credit: Alyssa Pointer
Atlanta-area Islamic leaders condemned bigotry following the massacre in New Zealand Friday.

Atlanta-area Islamic leaders condemn bigotry following massacre in New Zealand

Update: Atlanta-area Islamic leaders called on America’s elected leaders to join them in condemning bigotry following the mass shootings at a pair of mosques in New Zealand Friday.

“We want to call the minds and the hearts of our elected officials from the highest in the land to stop the hate-filled speech and the rhetoric against Muslims, people of faith and good people all around,” Sulaimaan Hamed, imam at Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam, told reporters at an emotional news conference at Masjid Al-Mu’Minun in Atlanta. 

“Yes, we place blame on you. And we call you back to your best selves. And we ask that God give us protection and that we be together in this time.”

Mansoor Sabree, director of the Inner-City Muslim Action Network in Atlanta, spoke out against racism, xenophobia and bigotry.

“As the community of the world continues to see this type of behavior, we stand together,” he said. “We stand focused on the day-to-day community life that we are striving to build as one human family, as one human race.”

Furqan Muhammad, imam at Masjid Al-Mu’Minun, said “the enemy is ignorance and falsehood.”

“As leaders, we must speak out more than what we are speaking, for silence gives consent,” he said. “It makes people believe that you go along with what has happened. And we do not go along with what has happened.”

“Let us learn a lesson. And that lesson is: It can come here. It can go anywhere. The whole world should be upset.”

Earlier Friday: Ian Latham, New Zealand's honorary consul general in Atlanta, issued a statement, saying: “All New Zealanders are saddened by the incidents in Christchurch today.”

“Our Muslim community in New Zealand is small, around 46,000 people, but it is growing,” he said. “New Zealand is a multicultural society, respecting and welcoming of all faiths." 

Latham added a memorial service in Atlanta is being planned.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp on Friday issued a statement on Twitter in support of the mass shooting victims in New Zealand.

“We are praying for the #NewZealandShooting victims, the people of Christchurch, and the local first responders,” Kemp tweeted. “We stand with New Zealand against evil, violence, and hate.”

President Donald Trump tweeted a similar message earlier Friday.

“My warmest sympathy and best wishes goes out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the Mosques,” Trump tweeted. “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do. God bless all!”

Gwinnett County and Atlanta police confirmed Friday they are boosting security around local mosques following the mass shootings in New Zealand.

“We have our officers conducting directed patrols around city mosques and asking them to be on heightened alert for suspicious activity,” Atlanta Police spokesman Carlos Campos said.  “Additionally, our Homeland Security Unit is monitoring the events out of New Zealand.”

Gwinnett police are responding similarly.

“In response to the incident in New Zealand, we have increased patrols at all mosques in Gwinnett County,” said Cpl. Michele Pihera, a Gwinnett police spokeswoman. “We hope to bring some measure of comfort to those who visit these places of worship during this difficult time.”

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-Georgia, urged Muslim houses of worship and private schools to increase security in wake of  terrorist attacks in New Zealand.

>> RELATED | ‘My heart breaks’: Atlantans, world leaders condemn attacks on New Zealand mosques

In Christchurch, 49 people were killed and 20 injured in attacks at two mosques. Police also found explosive devices nearby.

CAIR will hold a press conference later today in Atlanta.

CAIR-Ga. is also calling on local law enforcement to send patrol cars to guard local mosques during Islamic prayer services on Friday.

“Georgia Muslims will have to continue to strengthen our own security in the coming weeks and months, ” said Mitchell.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Georgia Chapter, speaks during a 2017 press conference  to defend civil rights, protect refugees and support legal immigration in the face of recent executive orders made by president Donald Trump. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

Escaping to Atlanta, Syrians worry the door will be shut behind them

Photo Credit: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations Georgia Chapter, speaks during a 2017 press conference  to defend civil rights, protect refugees and support legal immigration in the face of recent executive orders made by president Donald Trump. (DAVID BARNES / DAVID.BARNES@AJC.COM)

“This shooting is not an isolated or foreign incident,” he added. “This shooting is simply the latest in a surge of xenophobic and Islamophobic attacks against minorities that have occurred around the world. The hatred this man spewed in his manifesto sounds alarmingly similar to the hatred right-wing extremists and even some politicians spew here in the United States.”

CAIR-Georgia also plans to call on state and national political leaders to speak out against anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim bigotry that Mitchell said leads to such violence.

Return here for updates throughout the day.

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