When Mohanned Qutub, the president of the Sachse Muslim Society in Sachse, Texas, reviewed blueprints for a brand new mosque, he noticed the layout covered a wall of complete-length home windows.
“Given what’s been happening in the global a final couple of years,” Qutub advised HuffPost, “it just made not unusual sense” to keep away from the potential for a security chance.
Qutub and the construction committee agreed to raise the home windows to 5 toes off the ground for the safety of their congregations. It was a small element, Qutub stated, but one his team couldn’t forget about, especially throughout Ramadan.
“We usually go overboard so we may be prepared,” Qutub, forty-eight, said.
Muslims around the sector were bothered in March when a white supremacist opened the fireplace on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, during Friday prayers, killing 51 worshippers. Later that month, a mosque in California was set on fire. A notice left on the scene referenced the New Zealand bloodbath.
The rash of violence has many Muslims concerned as mosques put together for their busiest time of 12 months ― the month of Ramadan, which commenced Monday, while congregations accumulate to interrupt fasts and attend overdue night prayers. Mosque leaders across the u. S . A . Have sought professional assistance to relax their centers in guidance for the worst.
Nezar Hamze is a deputy sheriff, a subject instructor, and an educated rescue driver with a disaster intervention team based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In the past four years, Hamze has traveled to over one hundred seventy mosques throughout the U.S. To supply protection and protection pieces of training and checks, hoping to help Muslim community members shield their lives and mosques.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, as a minimum, 15 U.S. Mosques were attacked in 2018. In February of that year, a person threw a huge rock through the glass of the front door of a county Islamic middle in Virginia. The next month, two Arizona girls were arrested when they took a set of youngsters to vandalize and thieve materials at a mosque. Two months later, burglars stole money from donation packing containers in a Houston mosque, vandalized the premises with derogatory phrases, and urinated on the carpet.
During the first few months of 2017, a mean of 9 mosques had been targeted each month. In several instances, a couple of incidents occurred within the equal metropolis or the equal mosque.
Hamze’s in-intensity schooling, which could cost between $500 and $2250, relying on the topic and the wide variety of classes, covers what to do if an active shooter assaults a mosque. It additionally gives steering on bomb threats, evacuation plans, and popular protection practices during times of massive congregations like Ramadan or Friday prayers. Hamze can evaluate the mosque’s ground plans and meet with its safety group; he also gives his services to different Muslim facilities andersonal Islamic faculties.
The Florida-based total officer said the bloodbath in New Zealand distressed him; however, he no longer wondered about him. He is involved in similar attacks that ought to happen in America.
“I’m now not surprised if it’s going to appear again,” he stated. “It’s only a be counted of when and wherein. So we must ensure the network has the expertise, abilities, equipment, and training to guard themselves.”
Demand for Hamze’s offerings surged after the New Zealand shooting and again after the final month’s synagogue taking pictures in California ― the suspect inside the latter case was also charged with the mosque fireplace in March. But Hamze, 42, has advised Muslim communities toalways proactiveimes, not just in the wake of attacks like these.
In Florida, the Islamic Center of Boca Raton became among the mosques immediately called Hamze after New Zealand. The event spurred mosque contributors to severely overview their safety plans, Rami Aboumahadi, a mosque’s protection and protection team member, informed HuffPost. Especially at some stage in Ramadan, they didn’t want to take any chances.
“It just has become greater essential for us to take more organized steps to make certain that something like this in no way takes place here, or if God forbid it does come to appear, to minimize [the outcome],” Aboumahadi said. “It’s guidelines we, with any luck, in no way need to use. However, God forbid something happens; we at least know what to do.”
The middle spends hundreds yearly on safety and hires armed guards to circle the premises at some stage in Ramadan this 12 months. But Aboumahadi stated it’s just as vital to be, in my view, prepared similarly to hiring personal safety. Ramadan will quickly come to a stop. However, the protection education will remain beyond that.
“[Hamze’s training] is something the common Joe might not have the skilled eye for. So to pay attention to it from that expert attitude is honestly precious,” Aboumahadi stated. “Alhamdulillah [thank God], having him within the community is an extraordinary asset.”
One of the largest mosques in Central Texas, the North Austin Muslim Community Center, has been centered four times over several months. Last week, a suspect was seen on video pouring gasoline on the edges of the construction and trying to mild it on the fireplace. Police have no longer caught the attempted arsonist.
The Austin mosque has considered reinforcing its safety features and operates carefully with regulation enforcement, a good way to understand the arsonist and deter other attacks. The imam advised HuffPost the middle has already spent lots of greenbacks on security this 12 months on my own. With Ramadan in full swing, the mosque has also implemented 24-hour surveillance and hired private protection.
“We need to do the whole thing we can after setting our accept as true within Allah that we take the way essential for human beings’ protection as nicely,” Islam Mossad, the imam of the network middle, told HuffPost.
The Austin Center has had its share of harassment. Vandals slashed human beings’ tires within the parking lot last year, and at least one of the broken cars was reportedly urinated on. In September, the mosque’s doorways and windows werehed at some stage in an overnpted theft that cost the mosque thousands of bucksdollarsamages. Later that month, worshippers discovered their tires slashed once more inside the parking lot.
In Westchester, New York, Saad Gewida has taken new measures for his mosque, where he has been an imam for over ten years. In no way did the Hudson Valley Islamic Community Center rent formal security practices, largely counting on volunteers to patrol and protect the premises at some stage in Ramadan prayers, additionally known as Taraweeh prayers.
But given the continued assaults on U.S. Mosques, and in mild of the New Zealand massacre, Gewida stated it changed into too volatile not to do so. He has hired personal security to shield the entrances and exits to the mosque each night. The mosque holds daily iftars, or meals for breaking one’s speed, accompanied by Taraweeh prayers that almost two hundred Muslims attend, many bringing dad and mom, youngsters, and family of every age and background.
“If a person dies, then it’s over. A character’s life has ended,” Gewida told HuffPost. “This way, we’ve got covered our human beings and don’t position them at risk, and our community contributors had been relieved of paying attention that we’ve got chosen to do so.”
The guide is thankful that their mosque has no longer faced any serious hate crimes like the mosque in Austin, but he advised other Muslim leaders to crack down and cozy their houses of worship.
“[Mosque board members and imams] are the ones responsible in God’s eyes. If God forbid something occurs, God will preserve those people responsible,” Gewida stated. “We want to act proactively and provide an area where human beings can be spiritually and physically safe.”
In Sachse, Texas, Qutub employed complete-time security for Ramadan ― now not the handiest for the nighttime prayers but at some point of the fajr prayers, which take region at sunrise.
He’s already wondering beforehand about the subsequent Ramadan. The plan is to put in a safety lock that requires visitors to be buzzed in.
“There are quite a few good human beings around us,” Qutub said. “But we pass greater on the safety measures. To make sure.”