TUCSON — Hours after the terrorist attack in New Zealand, Omar Abutaleb walked into his mosque nearly 7,000 miles away in Tucson.
“I come to the mosque every day and seeing something like this happening in other countries can really bring tears to your eyes,” Abutaleb said Friday afternoon. “When I first saw this I was comfortable coming to the Friday prayer because I hold pride in my faith.”
Some fellow worshipers felt apprehensive about going to Friday prayers.
“At first I was scared,” worshiper Omar Ghadban said, “but then when I came here it kind of made me feel better when I saw the cops outside.”
The Tucson Police Department sent a law enforcement presence to the Islamic Center of Tucson in the wake of the Christchurch massacre without being asked by the center’s leaders.
“I saw the Tucson Police Department outside and it made me feel happy that they were helping us on their own accord,” Moeed Irfan said. “It made feel like there is hope for humanity and the community in general.”
Irfan Sheikh is on the board of the Islamic Center. He calls what happened in New Zealand an attack by an ignorant person on humanity.
“If they’re not going to stop doing what they think is right, we shouldn’t stop doing what we think is right which is come together tell others about yourself, mingle with your class fellows, mingle with them, visit them, enlighten them and do things together,” Sheikh said.
“We should work together to clear up misconceptions about one another so we can live together in peace and harmony,” Irfan said.