Support grows, security heightened at Islamic Centers across the South Bay

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Support and security are top priorities for the Bay Area's Muslim community.

The weight of Thursday's massacre in Christchurch, New Zealand is being felt a world away. In the South Bay, the local community and law enforcement are helping to carry that load.

"It's a good thing to see people around us," Nazir Kikhia told ABC7 News. "At this moment."

RELATED: Bay Area mosques hold services with extra security as Bay Area Muslims react to New Zealand terror attack

During the day, ABC7 News saw police patrolling outside the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara.

In the evening, officers were outside the Evergreen Islamic Center in San Jose.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) explained this is reality.

"It's just really being prepared for the possibility that this could happen," Ammad Rafiqi said.

Rafiqi is CAIR's Civil Rights and Legal Services Coordinator.

He continued, "I think individuals who went to that mosque in New Zealand, in Christchurch, did not anticipate to be victims of violence."

However, taking proactive and preventative measures seemed to be the mission on Friday.

"We always have the security," President of the Evergreen Islamic Center, Akbar Syed said. "We don't take chances."

Syed said, right now, any place of worship for Muslims is likely the safest place to be.

During Friday night prayer, police were close. Syed said private and undercover security was also present.

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"There was security all around the perimeter, and also we have the surveillance camera," he explained. "Anybody who comes in, goes out, they're all captured."

These are measures Syed expects to remain in place over the next few weeks. Steps many hope will keep the Muslim community focused on prayer and peace.

14-year-old Simah Kikhia had this message for anyone fearing their Muslim faith, "Don't let these things go to your head, because there are people out there who don't understand, really, in-depth what Islam is. Or what we are really worshiping."

CAIR shared the following vigil information for events planned around the South Bay:
  • SBIA United in Grief: Prayer for Victims of NZ Attack at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday, March 16. 2345 Harris Way, San Jose

  • SJSU SJP Vigil for Christchurch Mosque Massacre at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 16. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library (4th St. and San Fernando St.), San Jose

  • SCU MSA Candlelight Vigil for Christchurch Victims @ 5:30 p.m. Multi-faith Sanctuary at Santa Clara University.
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