The Muslim community in North Texas is mourning the loss of 49 people who were killed in mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques full of worshippers.
“It was truly disbelief at the sheer amount of violence, cold-blooded murder of innocent worshippers in two mosques,” said Ekram Haque, acting executive director of CAIR-DFW. “To make matters worse, this was live-streamed. All the gore, the violence, the mayhem.”
The Plano Police Department confirms they have been asked for extra patrols at mosques "out of an abundance of caution and to help reduce fear."
Morning prayer was held Friday at the East Plano Islamic Center.
Haque also asked mosques across the Metroplex to step up their security following the attack in New Zealand.
CAIR-DFW officials were joined by police and members of Faith Forward as they condemned the attack. They also said it's time for Americans of all faiths - or no faith - to stand together to denounce bigotry, and demand that from elected leaders as well.
"Today, I want to give my community a message of resilience," said Imam Omar Suleiman, founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research. "And I also want to tell them that it's okay to grieve. And I think sometimes we're asking too much of people, we're asking them to get over it too quickly."
More than 3000 Muslims walked into the East Plano Islamic Center for afternoon prayer under the watchful eyes of armed security.
“We have done everything we possibly can to make sure that epic is safe and protected,” said Sameer Saddiqui. “And after that? We trust Allah.”
As the congregation prayed for those killed in the mosque attacks, they were reminded that in times of crisis; there is also kindness.
“Our religion teaches us something beautiful. When you want to repel negativity, you repel negativity with positivity,” said Imam Nadim Bashir with the East Plano Islamic Center. “In times like this, there is no need to get, no purpose of getting upset and angry. But we have to have a positive demeanor.”
Plano police addressed the congregation telling worshippers they stepped up patrols, but are urging everyone to remain vigilant in their day-to-day activities. They were assured Plano Police will protect and defend their right to worship.
“This is not just about Muslims,” said Pastor George Mason with the Wilshire Baptist Church. “This is about all of us.”
In Dallas, the Council on American Islamic Relations brought together religious leaders of different faiths to condemn the New Zealand attacks.
“We call upon all religious leaders and political leaders to use their powers, their voice, their pulpit to speak love back into this world. Love for all people,” said Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas with the Cathedral of Hope.
The Islamic Association of North Texas released the following statement following the attack:
"We're speechless after hearing of the acts of terror that unfolded recently in a New Zealand mosque, with many worshippers reported injured or deceased. We pray that Allah SWT (God) grants those who passed away His Rahma (mercy), and that He grants Sabr (patience) to the loved ones that survive them. People of peace around the world will stand united today. We will stand strong - firm in our conviction. We will stand together in solidarity. We will stand in unison against hate, violence, and xenophobia. The security and well-being of our congregants is our utmost priority. We are monitoring the situation closely, and necessary arrangements are being made."
The Islamic Association of North Texas will have a vigil in Richardson at 8 p.m. People of all faiths are invited to attend.