After at least 49 people were killed at a mosque in New Zealand Friday, law enforcement is stepping up patrols at mosques in North Texas. No threats have been made, but many departments are taking action in an abundance of caution.
As Friday morning services were underway at the Islamic Association of North Texas in Richardson, police patrol units and officers were present the parking lot. Plano and Dallas police also said they will step up patrols out of an abundance of caution.
The Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations held a press conference at 10 a.m. to respond to the shooting.[[507206452,C]]
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"I want to give my community a message of resilience," Imam Omar Suleiman said. "Our mosques will be full today. They did not empty out after those protests; they will not empty after those terror attacks."
Dallas Police Lieutenant Sharice Hadnot expressed condolensces and said the department directed officers to have high visibility and high alert in Muslim communities, saying "your safety is our most high priority."
"If you see anything suspicious, please reach out to us," Hadnot said. "We are part of this community and we are standing with you."
Mica Lunt, Plano Police Homeland Security Lieutenant, gave condolensces on behalf of the department.
"[Violence] has spanned really every kind of group that seeks to express their religious beliefs and they should be able to do so in peace without fear or harm," he said.
The Islamic Association of North Texas released a statement:
"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. Ameen.
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."
There are North Texas groups focused on creating better interfaith relationships.
Faith Forward Dallas is a group of clergy from several houses of worship across different faith groups that have been talking about differences and how to create better understanding among groups that seem so different.
“We’re actually taking the beliefs of our individual faiths and actually practicing to work on some of these issues of hate and Islamaphobia, Anti-Semitism… you know the hate that we have for people who don’t look like us," said Executive Director Almas Muscatwalla.
IANT is inviting people of all faiths to join them at their center Friday at 8:00pm for show of unity. The center is located at 840 Abrams Road in Richardson.