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Local Muslim community reacts to shootings in New Zealand

Dr. Gohar Salam of the Universal Education Foundation Islamic Center said prayer services at mosques are meant for peace and reflection.

Posted: Mar. 16, 2019 6:58 PM
Updated: Mar. 18, 2019 6:26 AM

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WFFT) - In the wake of the deadly mosque shootings that have now left 50 people dead and 50 others hurt, the local Muslim community says their hearts are broken. 

Dr. Gohar Salam of the Universal Education Foundation Islamic Center said prayer services at mosques are meant for peace and reflection. When he heard the news that several of his Muslim brothers were gunned down, he was shocked. 

"We were all deeply saddened and shocked by this, what we consider, a terrorist attack on innocent people who were just walking into a place of worship," he said. "Whether those are Muslims or Jews or Christians, any time you are targeting someone based on faith, or even race, or culture, that, unfortunately, is very, deeply shocking to us."

But Salam said violence aimed at Muslims and immigrants is nothing new. That's why many mosques have amped up security over the past few years, and Salam hopes Mayor Tom Henry increases patrols locally. 

"We have done our best, but particularly at this time, when there is a much more heightened awareness, we are recommending that there should be security that is beefed up even more," he said. 

Salam believes the acts of violence on Muslims are due to the misconception of Islam. 

"I believe sometimes, particularly with the recent incidences that have happened overseas where some of the people who claim to be Muslims, they have essentially hijacked the religion, and did some really bad things in the name of Islam, which is a very peaceful religion. Unfortunately, that has triggered this wave of Islamophobia we are seeing," he said. 

Now, he hopes people of all faiths can come together in a time of tragedy. 

"Once we are sitting dark in a corner, not realizing that this other faith, whether that would be Islam or or Christianity or Judaism, they're all talking about spreading peace and just worshipping this one, wonderful being."

Salam said he's grateful to the churches throughout Fort Wayne who have reached out to the Muslim community. 

The UEF is now planning a prayer service Sunday at 7:00 p.m. at 2223 Goshen Road. Salam said people of all faiths are encouraged to attend. 

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