Local mosque reacts to terror attack in New Zealand

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — For the Islamic Center of the Shenandoah Valley, hearing about the deadly terror attack in New Zealand has been difficult.

"I have to say it was very numbing," Madiha Patel said. "I feel very numb about another shooting in a place of worship."

Patel said she is still processing her thoughts about the attack.

"It's so hard to make sense of it. The fact that there's still so much hatred that exists in our communities, and that the hatred comes out, and is expressed in the matter that it is, by taking lives."

Muawia Dames, another member of the mosque, said he thinks they've had a heightened sense of security. A number of years ago, the mosque was vandalized. Dames said they've worked with the Harrisonburg Police Department and the community to take steps he said are typical of any large gathering.

Dames said hearing about the shooting is tragic because they want the mosque to be open.

"Typically you would expect any place of worship to be a place of sanctuary, and not necessarily a place of setting barriers."

Patel said she still feels safe here, and she knows her community would be there for her. She added that she hopes people realize their words matter.

"This shooting and many other shootings that have been caused by hatred are partly because of the language and the rhetoric that exists."

Dames says he hopes people stand up for others.

"Whatever those injustices are, we hope that people recognize them, first of all, acknowledge them, and then stand up to them."