MIDWOOD – “No hate, no fear, Muslims are welcome here. No hate, no fear, everyone is welcome here,” people chanted outside Makki Masjid this afternoon.
Last night, a white supremacist shot and murdered 49 Muslims inside two mosques in New Zealand. The massacre took place during Jummah, a holy day for Muslims. The perpetrator live-streamed the entire ordeal on Facebook and posted a 74-page manifesto where he praised President Donald Trump, among many other things.
Today, Muslims and allies all over the world got together to mourn the people who were murdered and to denounce hate; including right here in Brooklyn in front of Midwood’s Makki Masjid.
“We gather here to mourn these senseless and barbaric murders of our brothers and sisters in Christchurch, New Zealand,” community organizer Kashif Hussain said. “Let it be clear that this was an act of terrorism. We’re experiencing the pandemic of anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia. For those that believe that words don’t matter, this tragedy is a reminder that words do matter.”
“Unfortunately, when our president promotes bigotry and hate, it perpetuates fear and violence locally and globally,” he continued. “If you don’t believe me, then go read this terrorist manifesto.”
A moment of silence was then held for those who were murdered. The imam of the mosque also recited a few verses from the Quran. Rabbi Bob Kaplan encouraged everyone to recognize the person standing next to them as a holy person.
“That holiness may look a little different, may pray a little different, may act a little different, it may operate a little different,” he said. “But God creates us all. What happened in Christchurch, New Zealand was an act of unholiness. What is happening here right now in front of the Makki Mosque… is an act of holiness.”
Borough President Eric Adams expressed his anger and sadness.
“We need to be clear and classify this as what it is. It’s terrorism. Intentional, meditated terrorism,” he said. “Even if [Muslims] can’t make prayer every day, Friday is a day where they come and make sure they make the prayer. This person knew that. He picked an intentional day where the mosque would have been full.”
He said the video of the murder should not have surfaced on the internet in the first place.
“Zuckerberg, with your 60 plus billion dollars in Facebook, one technology must be put in place where acts like this should not be continued to spread throughout our entire country and the entire globe,” he said. “We may have heard the shots that took place in the mosque, but passing that video amplified the shots and amplified the words on that manifesto.”
He referenced “copycat incidents,” and said Brooklynites have to remain strong but vigilant.
“That video stayed up too long and has now downloaded and spread throughout the entire country where those who have sick minds can look at it,” he said.
The district’s council member, Mathieu Eugene, was not in attendance, but neighboring council member Chaim Deutsch was. Deutsch said he reached out to law enforcement as soon as he heard the news last night to request extra police outside mosques.
“In New Zealand… they said ‘Don’t go to the mosques. Stay home. It’s not safe.’ That is the wrong message,” Deutsch said. “A mosque, a house of worship is a safe haven. You should be able to walk into a mosque and kneel. You should be allowed to close your eyes without turning back. An attack on one is an attack on all. This must stop!”
District Leader Doug Schneider offered his condolences and his sorrow. He referenced the recent co-naming of Muhammad Ali Jinnah Way, just a block away from Makki Masjid.
“We named that street right there after Muhammad Ali Jinnah as a symbol of how here in Brooklyn, we embrace our amazing diversity,” he said. “There are very powerful people out there; people who try to divide us every day because they know that when we are side by side together, we cannot be stopped.”
A representative from Attorney General Tish James’ office, Umair Khan, held back his tears as he choked on his words.
“On this day, we normally greet each other with Jummah Mubarak, may you have a blessed Friday. So we’ll continue that today. Jummah Mubarak,” he said. “The phenomenon that is going on in our country has spread beyond our borders.”
Public Advocate-Elect Jumaane Williams said he was speechless. He said heinous acts are occurring far too often in the world.
“All cultures have to stand up when this occurs; that is the only way we’re going to get through this. If it is coming to one person it will always come to all of us,” he said. “I continue to pray Inshallah that love will continue to inspire more than hatred does. It’s unfortunate that this country right now cannot display the type of leadership that we need, to prevent these attacks from coming.”
At the end of the press conference, community members and local politicians held hands and chanted words of support. We are all one, they said.
“When there is a passing, in the Islamic tradition, we say, ‘Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raji’oon,'” Khan said. “‘To Allah, we belong, to Him we shall return.”