New Zealand shootings spark call for police at Washington mosques

SEATTLE — After dozens of people were killed in shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, there's a new push to get protection at mosques across Washington state.

At least 49 people are dead as a result of the shootings, and New Zealand police said a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder, TVNZ reported.

In the wake of the attack, the Washington state branch of CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations, issued an alert to local mosque board members and leaders recommending more security.

In response to the mosque shooting in New Zealand, we are asking all community members to remain vigilant at Friday prayers on March 15th.  Mosque board members and religious leaders should request a police presence at their places of worship for prayers.

KIRO 7 spoke with CAIR Washington's executive director, Masih Fouladi, Friday morning, who said they have reached out to law enforcement and Seattle police Chief Carmen Best, who he expects to speak with Friday morning. Fouladi said there are several locations in Seattle where Friday prayers will be taking place and he's asked to have a police presence at each location.

Fouladi said he was confident that Seattle police would "do the right thing."

"We don't have any information on any perceived threats at this point, we just want our community to be very vigilant, and we think it's important that we practice our First Amendment, so we want to reach out to law enforcement, we want them to attend the mosque and make sure that everything is safe," said Fouladi.

Fouladi said he thought the state's political leaders had a good track record of standing up for the Muslim, immigrant and refugee communities, but that this was a good opportunity for political leaders around the world to help people rise above hate.

"Political officials have an opportunity to really rise above this hate and put out messaging that really unites people. Unfortunately, what we've seen over the past few years, whether in the United States or around the world, is anti-Muslim sentiment, anti-black sentiment, anti-immigrant sentiment. So whether it's the Muslim ban here or separating children at the border or even refugee camps in Europe, we see a rise in hate and intolerance is continuing to grow, and unfortunately, (the New Zealand attack) is one of the most tragic consequences of that," said Fouladi.

When asked if he had a message to non-Muslims, he said we all have a shared humanity at moments like this where we can unite to support families who are dealing with tragedy and keep them in our prayers, no matter what faith.

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