Chicago area mosques on alert after New Zealand attacks

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (WLS) -- The attacks in New Zealand have local mosques in the Chicago area on alert Friday.

This act of terrorism in New Zealand has prompted high security at mosques around the world. At the Mosque Foundation in Bridgeview, a regular security detail stood guard as the news weighed heavily on those attending Morning Prayer.

RELATED: New Zealand shooting: 49 killed, 1 man charged after shootings at 2 mosques in Christchurch
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"I was thinking that he must run out bullets, you know?" a witness said. "So what I did was basically waiting and praying to God, 'Oh God, please let this guy run out of bullets.'"

"It's a sad feeling, you know, a lot of people didn't do anything," said Sameer Abedelqader, who attends the mosque. "They just wanna worship like everybody." Hamza Safi, who attends the mosque.

"It could happen anywhere, to be honest, but we're not fearful wherever it is and it's not gonna stop us from coming to mosque and praying," said

The Muslim Community Center on the Northwest Side of Chicago is also staying on alert and CPD has directed all districts to pay special attention to mosques, even though there is no known threat. Faith leaders at the Mosque Foundation say the root of the problem is hate speech.

"We should watch what we're saying to our communities," said Mosque Foundation Imam Ahmed Arafat. "Some people and it is very clear to say that some politicians rely on threats to achieve some political gains but the problem is this is one of the consequences."

The Mosque Foundations plans to have police watch over the Afternoon Prayers.

CAIR-Chicago, which is a group that defends Muslim civil liberties and fights bigotry, issued a community alert telling the community not to panic and telling Mosque leaders to encourage calmness along with caution.

"We don't expect anything to happen," said Ahmed Rehab, executive director of CAIR-Chicago. "We don't have and intelligence that anything is being planned to happen, God forbid, but just in the way of caution, we're asking mosques to contact their police department and ask for extra security detail and to keep an extra eye with vigilance to report anything suspicious they see and have volunteers at the doors."

CAIR said Friday is the Sabbath and a lot of Muslims will be praying similar spaces seen in the video which they believe will be very traumatic for worshippers.

CAIR said it is shocked and saddened by this act of terrorism and is urging politicians to fight against hate speech.

In their full statement, CAIR said, "We are at a loss for words.

A short while ago, a terrorist attack took place at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand.

At around Jumuah time, worshippers were mowed down by multiple high powered rifles that the shooter exchanged as he filmed the whole attack in a first person perspective. Reports suggest 40-50 casualties.

A second mosque was allegedly attacked. The shooter had anti-immigrant handwritten messages on his rifles and allegedly made anti-immigrant social media posts. This is a developing story.

As the details of the story continue to develop, we urge all of our community members to be vigilant, especially while attending Friday prayers and for our mosques and center to take increased security precautions.

The horrific active shooter scenario at a mosque is something we all pray never happens, there is no active intelligence that there is any immediate threat in the US. But we cannot be complacent. CAIR-Chicago urges mosques and worshippers to take the following steps before Jumuah:

1. Contact your local Law enforcement and ask for increased patrols. Explain what has happened.

2. Notify your Mosque leadership and have them raise awareness and to be on the look out for any suspicious behavior. Report to Law Enforcement.

3. Have a couple of brothers volunteer and just greet people outside the masjid and keep an eye out.

4. The community should not panic. Mosque leaders should encourage calmness along with caution."

Mayor Rahm Emanuel released a statement Friday saying, "An attack on any place of worship is an attack on all places of worship. It shouldn't be lost on anyone that, following the attack on the synagogue in Pittsburgh, the first community that spoke up and offered support was the Muslim community. The first group that offered financial support was the Muslim community. I want all of our Muslim brothers and sisters to know that Chicago welcomes them and welcomes their sincerity of prayer for our common humanity."
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