Chicago-Area Muslims Come Together for Prayer, Reflection After New Zealand Shooting

Friday worship at Chicago-area mosques looked slightly different this week, as the Chicago Police Department and the Cook County Sheriff’s Department both paid special attention to security at the facilities.

Security was tight during Friday worship services at the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, following an attack in New Zealand that claimed the lives of at least 49 people at two houses of worship in the town of Christchurch.

“I was devastated, but this is not the first time this has happened,” resident Jawad Shalabi said.

While there were no threats locally, mosques and Muslim centers across the city, and nation, are on high alert, and are being told to take increased security precautions.

“We are asking mosques to be extra vigilant,” CAIR Chicago Deputy Director Sufyan Sohel said. “(We’re asking them) to provide security and to have extra people at the doors to keep their eyes out for anything suspicious.”

Local worshippers, including Naseem Ashkar, are determined not to live in fear even in the face of the tragic shooting, and he hopes that residents across the country can realize what they have in common, even if they are of different faiths.

“If we get to know each other, you’ll find we have a lot in common,” he said. “If you ask me about my neighbor – and my neighbor about me – we both love each other, and he’s a Christian and I’m a Muslim.”

The community will gather for a vigil on Saturday night at the Muslim Community Center in Morton Grove to honor the victims lost in the New Zealand shooting.

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