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Local Muslim community pulls together after New Zealand mosque shooting

Worshipers gather at the Al-Huda Islamic Center in East Grand Forks. On Saturday, the mosque held a vigil in remembrance of those killed in the New Zealand shootings. (Al-Huda Islamic Center)

Grand Forks' Muslim community is expressing solidarity with the victims in last week's mass shooting at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.

National media reported that at least 50 people were killed in the March 15 incident, in which a lone gunman allegedly opened fire at two New Zealand mosques during Friday prayers. Another 50 people were injured, according to several media reports.

The shooter broadcasted the killings on social media and published a more-than-70-page manifesto outlining his beliefs, BBC reported.

The Al-Huda Islamic Center in East Grand Forks on Saturday held a vigil and special prayer in remembrance of those killed, said Abdirisak Duale, the mosque's president and chairman.

"We remain committed to being active and partner together with our neighbors and allies to end Islamophobia and all forms of bigotry and xenophobia, both near and far," he said in a statement. "We would also like to work together with other religious leaders, community members, neighbors and allies to end hate crimes against all faiths. An attack on any place of worship is an attack on all places of worship."

Duale called the mass shooting an act of terror and a hate crime.

On Facebook, leaders at the Islamic Center of Grand Forks thanked the greater Grand Forks community for "reaching out with support and help to make Muslims feel safe in the wake of the New Zealand terror attacks."

"The Muslim community of Grand Forks is very fortunate to hear voices of love and compassion around them at a time when hate is becoming the fashion in many parts of the world," mosque leaders said on Facebook.

Dan Niepow

Niepow covers social and community issues for the Grand Forks Herald. Before joining the paper, he worked as a magazine writer and editor. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he currently resides over the river in East Grand Forks, Minn. To reach Niepow with story ideas, send him an email at dniepow@gfherald.com or call him at (701) 780-1110. Follow him on Twitter @dniep.

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