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After Christchurch, US mosques bulk up security during Ramadan

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Mohamed Bahi’s computer mouse on the screen jumped from one room to the other. It was one day until the start of Ramadan, and he was finalising the new security equipment at the Brooklyn mosque where he expected 200 to 300 attendees every night during the month.

Up until last Ramadan – or even a few months ago, his biggest worry about the mosque was coffee creamer flavours. His concerns have since shifted from food list for Iftar meals to concerns over the safety of mosque attendees as they observe Ramadan.

Bahi, who is a director at the Muslim Community Center in Brooklyn, New York said his anxieties about being attacked have spiked since the shooting spree at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand killed 51 Muslims in March.

“We hired an armed guard to be outside during Friday prayers [since] Christchurch – literally the following day,” he said. “Every time there’s a large congregation, a large gathering here, security now is the number one issue. Before, it was always [issues] like food. Now, it’s all security.”

The Christchurch attacks, as well as massacres at other houses of worship, including synagogues in the United States and the Easter attacks on churches in Sri Lanka, have intensified the fear many Muslims in the US have felt for years, especially under the administration of US President Donald Trump.

“The very thought that someone could show up behind dozens of people standing outside on carpets completely vulnerable like on the sidewalks praying – that thought that never really came to mind before [the Christchurch shooting]” said Asad Dandia, a New Yorker who goes to MCC for Ramadan taraweeh prayers. “For the first time, this year, after New Zealand, after the attacks on the synagogues, the thought came to my head.”

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