U.S. Muslims calls for protection after NZ massacre

The huge massacre made Muslims to call for more armed security at mosques as well as arming Muslims themselves.


By Bassel Barakat

Many Muslims across the United States are concerned after the twin mosque shootings last Friday in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Right after the incident, heavily armed police stood outside U.S. mosques to protect people during Friday prayer.

Several conversations and discussions among Muslims focused on providing more security cameras and more protective doors as a sort of increasing the protection, Ibrahim Hooper, National Communications Director at the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told Newsweek. However, some urges called for armed security at mosques as well as arming Muslims in some cases.

Linda Sarsour, a Palestinian-American activist and co-chair of the Women’s March, said that the idea of carrying weapons would cause more violence.

Meanwhile, more armed protection would bring altercations between police and Muslims.

After the September 11, 2001, attacks, the New York Police Department commenced a special unit named the Demographics to spy on Muslims. Police officers wearing plain clothes were spying on congregants in Muslim neighborhood. The operation terminated in 2014.

“How do we reconcile feeling the need for law enforcement with distrust for law enforcement?” Sarsour asked.

Mohammed Harun Arsalai, an activist and journalist, said that broken windows attacks has been occuring in the Bay Area for many years, agreeing on discussions about protection.

Also, many Muslim leaders prompted other protective ways.

Rana Abdelhamid, a human rights organizer and black belt karate instructor, said that Many people wants to learn self-defense instructions.

Abdelhamid told Newsweek that she has been asked to “arrange something in [New Zealand], a community we have not worked with before. I’ve also just got a request from the orthodox Jewish community,” she added. “It’s not uncommon that after such a tragic event, that minority communities reach out more urgently because of overwhelming sense of insecurity that we are all feeling.”

“In terms of the use of guns for self defense, I’ve seen only very fringe comments on this. Most conversation is on the importance of policy change, addressing dehumanizing rhetoric and building more space for relationship building across communities. Our organization does not recommend or stand by the use of guns because we know that the presence of guns on site will create more violence and loss,” she added.

Hooper also promoted methods instead of carrying weapons.

“We have always recommended that mosques hire armed security personnel. But that typically means off-duty police officers,” he added. “I think it would be a leap to suggest members of the mosque arm themselves.”


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