Pasadena Muslims Grieve After New Zealand Terror Attack, Police Chief Offers Support, Reassurance

Published : Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 5:57 AM

The Islamic Center Center of Southern California and the Muslim Public Affairs Council hosted maghrib prayers and a vigil for the victims of the New Zealand shooting at Pasadena City Hall on Saturday, March 16, 2019. Hundreds of people from different faiths attended.

Pasadena’s Muslim community was in mourning Friday after mass shootings at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand killed at least 49 and wounded 48 worshippers early in the day.

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez met with members of Pasadena’s Muslim community Friday afternoon at a prayer service.

Perez said there are no known threats against the local Islamic community.

Perez offered his condolences to the families and friends of the victims of “this horrific crime” and said it was very important that the Pasadena Muslim community “have a connection with the police department and its police chief.”

Pasadena is well-connected to local law enforcement and national intelligence agencies, Perez told the group, to ensure their safety.

Perez said that although there are no known credible threats locally, concern centers around possible lone actors or singular suspects.

“Pay attention to suspicious postings,” he said. “Make sure that we are as a community just more aware and more alert to what might be happening out there. Because even though we have singular actors that operate, we are always concerned about who they’re connecting with on the Internet. Who they’re talking with, [if they’re] buying firearms from other people. All those types of things are red flags or hazard indicators that people need to pay attention to.”

In an unrelated incident Friday, Pasadena police questioned and are referring to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s office for possible criminal prosecution a Pasadena man whose online postings about local shooting caused concern in an online neighborhood group.

Perez stressed that strong community relationships, “especially in our diversity,” will build a local community that is safer.

Tarek Shawky, a Pasadena Muslim who is a member of the Islamic Center of Southern California and attends Masjid Al-Taqwa in Altadena, saw Perez speak at Friday’s service.

“The Chief of Police himself came, shared a few words of solidarity, of support, saying that the Muslim community is very much a part of the Pasadena community and that they’re here for us,” Shawky said.

“It was very genuine and honest,” Shawky said. “I think he was very sincere and he stayed afterward and talked to other community members that wanted to speak to him.”

Shawky said Pasadena is a welcoming city and that as a Muslim living here he feels safe and accepted.

“But at the same time, you know that the Muslims who were praying in New Zealand felt equally as safe and had no idea that this was going to happen,” Shawky said.

“Seemingly everything seems great on the surface, but it’s always just under the surface that people are hiding their bad intentions. And you never know how those are going to come out,” he said.

Shawky described Pasadena’s Muslim community as not large, but very much part of local society and comprised of business owners, school teachers and those involved in local politics.

He said the Muslim community wants the greater Pasadena community to get to know them better.

“I feel like the more people know us, the less likely it is that somebody can go off the deep end and do something like what happened in New Zealand,” Shawky said.

blog comments powered by Disqus