SEATTLE - Members of the local Islamic community said they are shocked by the deadly mosque shootings in New Zealand but not surprised, adding that they sometimes feel like targets even in America.
“It's very, very sad. Muslims look forward for Friday prayer and large crowds gather,” said Rizwan Samad, a man who is an outspoken activist about his faith.
Samad emigrated from Pakistan when he was a teen and has called the Seattle-area his home almost ever since. He is horrified by the realization the gunmen in New Zealand waited until those mosques were packed with worshipers to launch the attacks.
Samad said he is a bit surprised this would happen in peaceful New Zealand. It makes him wonder how things bode with the mounting Islamophobia in America.
“The mosque in Redmond has been vandalized many times,” he said. “In Seattle, all these places."
While his sense is things are going from bad to worse, Samad trusts that the vast majority of people are law-abiding. Still, he can never discount those one or two individuals who are ready to turn lives upside down.
“All the faith people have to unite and tell them that these things are wrong,” Samad said.
One stark reality in our area is many mosques now post armed guards outside the doors during Friday prayers.