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Locals of different faiths express solidarity following deadly New Zealand mosque attacks

Mosques on the Central Coast are mourning with New Zealand after the devastating massacres at two mosques.

People from outside the Muslim community have been dropping off flowers and attending prayer at the Mosque of Nasreen in San Luis Obispo on Friday.

During the 1 p.m. sermon, the President of the Islamic Society of San Luis Obispo said, “This is a religion that puts forgiveness above hatred.”

Pain for New Zealand is being felt across the U.S.

“Feeling of deep anger and sadness,” said Rev. Rod Richards, Minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church in San Luis Obispo.

“It was a real shock because that’s not a place where we expect something like that to happen,” said Hisham Assal, Board Member of the Islamic Society of San Luis Obispo County.

“It’s really heartbreaking that some people can lose their humanity and reach that level of being driven by hatred,” said Ahmed Deif, President of the Islamic Society of San Luis Obispo County.

Deif addressed the deadly terrorist attacks on two mosques during his 1 p.m. sermon at the Mosque of Nasreen.

“We Muslims are taught in the Quran that whoever killed an innocent soul is if he or she had killed all of mankind,” he said during the sermon.

“I hope this can kind of be a wake-up call for all people who care about humanity and who care about the solidarity of our society here in the U.S. and it’s time to stand together and condemn these actions,” Deif added.

Some worshippers of the Unitarian Universalist Church joined Friday afternoon’s prayer.

“Our Muslim brothers and sisters need our support no matter where in the world oppression occurs,” said Gina Whitaker, Social Justice Committee Chair at the Unitarian Universalist Church.

“They are our neighbors and that we are there in compassion and in solidarity with them to know that they belong,” Rev. Richards added.

Meantime, as mosques across the world and country beef up security, the San Luis Obispo Police Department is not taking the deadly attacks lightly.

“We’ve encouraged them to do extra drive-bys, walk the block on foot, just put some extra presence out there, hopefully, to put those attending services there at ease,” said Lt. Brian Amoroso, San Luis Obispo Police Department.

“We want to still show up and be there and that’s how we defeat terrorism,” Assal said.

The police department is on the same street as the mosque. Members told KSBY that makes them feel more at ease.

They also say that they extend their condolences to those involved in New Zealand.

President Trump is also expressing sympathy. He tweeted, “49 innocent people have so senselessly died, with so many more seriously injured. The U.S. stands by New Zealand for anything we can do.”

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola

Alexa Bertola has been a Multimedia Journalist at KSBY for more than two years. She's a general assignment reporter. Story idea? Email her: abertola@ksby.com
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