(KPTV) - Local police agencies are stepping up patrols at all Oregon mosques, following the New Zealand terror attack at two mosques, that left 49 worshipers.
The impact of the mass shooting is being felt far beyond the town of Christchurch. Friday, the Muslim Educational Fund in Tigard, held an interfaith prayer event in support of the victims of the mass shooting and their families.
“We choose love. We choose harmony,” said MET co-founder, Wajdi Said.
Representatives from the Sikh, Jewish and Christian faiths also spoke at the prayer service, denouncing terrorism, hate and violence.
“We are going to work together and pray together and stand together, no matter what,” Pastor J.W. Matt Hennessee of Vancouver Avenue First Baptist Church of Portland said.
There were many elected officials and representatives from several law enforcement agencies at Friday’s event. Both Mayor Ted Wheeler and Chief Danielle Outlaw addressed the crowd.
“We are here to protect you and keep you safe,” Chief Outlaw said, after expressing her condolences for the Muslim community.
Before the event, FOX 12 sat down with Zakir Khan, chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, to talk about the impact the mass shooting is having on the local Muslim community.
According to him, “It’s something we’ve come too familiar in Oregon.”
Khan said bias crime rose by 15 percent from 2016 to 2017, according to CAIR’s crime database. He told FOX 12, the increased trend of violence against minorities is particularly apparent with the rapid spread of Islamophobia amongst White Nationalists.
“Up and down the I-5 corridor there’s been hate crimes. Attacks against mosques,” he said.
The attack in New Zealand prompted law enforcement agencies to increase patrols at mosques at the request of Governor Kate Brown.
Friday morning, Washington County Sheriff’s Office tweeted, “Hate has no place in our community and we will stop at nothing to protect our neighbors from violence.”
Tigard Police Department and Portland Police Bureau, joining WCSO in expressing their support for the Muslim community and agreeing to enhance patrols at mosques. Two patrol cars were parked outside of today’s interfaith event.
“We’ll continue to bolster what we do and continue our efforts in that area,” Chief Outlaw said.
Despite these reassurances, some said, they want more than words. They want action.
“Lend your activism in writing to your representation,” Khan said.
He told FOX 12 CAIR is backing Senate Bill 577 which would make all bias crimes in Oregon a felony. The group hopes it will prevent violence against minorities.
The senate committee on judiciary has scheduled a work session to discuss SB 577 Tuesday, March 19 at 8 a.m.
FOX 12 will be following up with an extended story on the impact the bill could have, if passed.
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