‘We Will Not Cower in Fear’: Local Muslim Community Reacts to Deadly Mosque Shooting in New Zealand

SACRAMENTO -- The Muslim community around the world is mourning the loss of 49 people in the deadly New Zealand mosque attacks.

Closer to home, the terror attacks have brought faith leaders in Sacramento County closer together and law enforcement is not taking any chances.

Multiple agencies stepped up patrols at not only mosques but also synagogues, churches and schools.

Muslims here in the Central Valley say they’re not going to let this attack keep them from peacefully worshiping their faith even though the news rattled the community.

"Frankly I was sick to my stomach, it’s the type of event that realized my worst fears," Waseem Bawa said.

Bawa is the chairman of the board of the SALAM Masjid near American River College.

He said the attacks occurred at a vulnerable time for a mosque -- during Friday prayer service when often worshipers are packed shoulder to shoulder.

"With a very concentrated number of folks in a small area, it’s like shooting fish in a barrel," Bawa explained.

Standing in solidarity with other faith leaders, local law enforcement officials announced an increase in security around places of worship for all faiths and schools.

“The sheriff, the chief, Folsom Police Department, Fresno Police Department are ensuring that patrol cars are in and about the mosques in their respective jurisdictions as a show of force, to deter any sort of copycat people out there," US Attorney Mcgregor Scott, Eastern District of California said.

Scott said copycat attacks are rare but it’s better to be safe.

“We typically don’t see those things, but this is really in an abundance of caution. We don’t want to say tomorrow 'Gee I wish I had,'” Scott said.

Meanwhile, Bawa warns white supremacy ideology will continue to inspire terrorists.

"In South Carolina at the Emanuel AME Church, it’s happened at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and now this. This is a reoccurring pattern, and it’s an ideology that’s growing and spreading and our government really need to take more assertive measures to counter this.”

However, he won’t let this attack or others stop him or his congregation from worshiping.

“Because we will not cower in fear and we’re not going to change the way we worship and practice our faith,” Bawa said.

 

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