Police to increase security at Houston mosques following deadly New Zealand attacks

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Friday, March 15, 2019
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Houston mosques under alert after New Zealand attack

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Cities around the country, including Houston, have announced they are stepping up their police presence around mosques following the deadly mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand Friday.

Forty-nine people were killed in the attacks at mosques full of worshippers in Christchurch, New Zealand. One man was arrested and charged with murder.

RELATED: New Zealand shooting: 49 killed, 1 man charged after shootings at 2 mosques in Christchurch

Friday is a very significant day for Muslims. Rather than being alone, Friday prayer is in congregation meaning mosques are typically full of worshippers.

"This was a targeted attack, so we are afraid for our students. We're afraid for our children, but we also want to urge the community to not lose hope. Pray today," said Sobia Siddiqui with CAIR Houston.

Houston police told ABC13 overnight they have "an increased awareness of the mosques" in the area in light of this attack.

This is not the first time this year authorities have beefed up security at area mosques.

Back in January, bullets went flying at the Muslim American Society-Katy Center (MAS) Mosque.

Fortunately, no one was hurt.

One bullet hit the building. Another left a hole in the windshield of one of the cars in the parking lot.

The center worked to increase patrols after the incident.

At the time, representatives of the mosque said they were ready to welcome the person responsible.

"We will forgive him. We'd love to work with him for him to have the right information as a community here in America," Hesham Ebaid, vice president of the center, said in January.

The sheriff's office released a still photo from the surveillance video and asked anyone with information to call them. No one has been arrested.

READ MORE: Deputies searching for gunman after mosque in Katy shot at from roadway

According to the Association of Religion Data Archives, back in 2010, there were more than 45 mosques in Harris County alone. Another seven are in Fort Bend County.

Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez tweeted about the New Zealand Mosque attack, saying that the sheriff's office will be providing extra patrols around mosques.

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