"This is not just a Muslim problem. This is an attack on all of us," those words resonated Friday, as the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations (COSVIO) gathered to discuss the mosque attacks in New Zealand.
"The Sacramento community is profoundly saddened by the tragic events in New Zealand. We're also quite frankly outraged and fearful," said Waseem Bawa, the public information officer for the group. "As details emerge, it appears clear that the killing of Muslim worshippers was based on a cancerous ideology."
On Friday, 49 worshippers were gunned down in terror attacks on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Police took three men and a woman into custody after the shootings.
One of the suspects was later charged with murder. A man who claimed responsibility for the shootings left a 74-page anti-immigrant manifesto in which he explained who he was and his reasoning for the attack, according to the Associated Press. He said he was a 28-year-old white Australian and a racist.
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Locally, at least two mosques have been targeted by hate crimes in the last two years, according to Bawa. Those include the Masjid Annur Islamic Center in Sacramento and the Tarbiya Institute in Roseville.
"Our government needs to wake up and smell the white supremacy," Bawa said. His sentiments were echoed by McGregor Scott, the United States Attorney for the eastern district of California.
"None of this is acceptable," Scott said. "It's vital that we stand together."
PROTECTING THE COMMUNITY
Not long after the Pittsburgh Synagogue Shooting, Scott was among those who met with the representatives of the Jewish Federation to discuss safety.
From those meetings came an idea to protect other faith communities after attacks. When events like this happen, local law enforcement would deploy and put patrol cars in and around the places of worship that were the targets of the attack.
"When I woke up this morning and learned about the attacks, we reached out to the Sacramento Police Department, the Sacramento Sheriff, Folsom Police Department, and Fresno Police Department..." Scott said. "And they were already on it...it was already happening."
Sgt. Vance Chandler with the Sacramento Police Department confirmed Scott's statement, adding that the department immediately provided extra patrols and resources for all of the Mosques in Sacramento.
However, standing together is the only way we can truly prevent hate crimes, Scott said, adding that no matter what our religion, we all have the protected right to exercise religion as we see fit in this country.
"We in federal, state and local law enforcement will do everything we can to utilize the law and our authority and our power to protect each and every one of you gathered in this room today and those watching at home."
It's not enough to say that we stand with the communities affected, or say that we stand against hate, a representative with the Sikh public affairs association said.
"We call on elected officials, we call on leaders - when you're in a space where you hear hate, we challenge you to stand up then and there."