Eugene rallies around Muslim community after New Zealand attack

During Friday afternoon prayer at the Eugene Islamic Center, a group of supporters from all backgrounds and faiths stood outside in solidarity.

Posted: Mar 15, 2019 6:12 PM
Updated: Mar 15, 2019 6:50 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Eugene's Muslim community is mourning the loss of the 49 people killed in a New Zealand terrorist attack that targeted worshippers at two mosques, and many other people in the community are standing with them in solidarity.

During Friday afternoon prayer at the Eugene Islamic Center, a group of supports from all backgrounds and faiths stood outside in solidary, creating a wall so the worshippers could pray in peace. They where asked to come inside the mosque, where they all said a prayer for the victims of the shooting.

RELATED: 49 killed in mass shooting at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand

Muhyiddin Sultan, who leads prayer a the Eugene Islamic Center, said he was in disbelief when he first heard about the shooting but said they can not live in fear.

"As a Muslim community, as a Eugene community, all together we will support each other and we won't be in fear," Sultan said.

READ MORE: Oregon beefing up security at mosques, hate-crime law

Many people left behind flowers and gifts at the Islamic center to show support. Penny Campbell wrote messages of love on yellow strips of cloth and said she is worried something like what happened in New Zealand could happen here.

"New Zealand means it could happen anywhere," Campbell said. "It means it's just right here ... it could happen in Eugene."

Meanwhile, Eugene police said they will step up their patrols around the Eugene Islamic Center following the attacks in New Zealand. Police spokesperson Melinda McLaughlin announced the patrols late Friday morning.

MORE: Eugene police patrol Islamic Center after New Zealand attack

"Beat officers have been encouraged to stop by the mosque and connect with staff," she said.

Supporters are planning a candlelight vigil outside the Eugene Islamic Center Friday night after the 7:30 prayer.

Sultan said they are holding another event on Sunday at the Eugene Islamic Center, allowing people who couldn't make it on Friday afternoon to share their feelings. 

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