PITTSBURGH, Pennsylvania – A leading American Muslim group has expressed solidarity with the Jewish community after a deadly shooting at Pittsburgh synagogue left eleven people killed and a number of others injured.
“We condemn this heinous and cowardly attack on a house of worship, offer heartfelt condolences to the loved ones of all those who were killed or injured,” Zohra Lasania, program director at the Council on American-Islamic relations branch in Pittsburgh, said in a statement sent to AboutIslam.net.
She has also expressed Muslims’ “solidarity with the Jewish community during this time of shock and grief.”
A gunman identified as Robert Bowers was involved in a shooting at The Tree of Life Synagogue in Squirrel Hill on Saturday.
Armed with AR-15 and three handguns, he walked into the building and yelled, “All Jews must die.”
The shooting happened during weekly Shabbat services at the synagogue. The building was full of people for a Saturday service and police said they received several calls from people barricaded inside.
“This barbaric attack on our neighbors, with whom we share our city and have visited and dialogued multiple times, is deeply disturbing and horrifying,” CAIR-Pittsburgh Chapter President Safdar Khwaja said.
“Such an act of terror affects all of us. We offer our full support and assistance in the aftermath of this tragedy, and our doors are open at all times to our neighbors.
“This attack is on American values and principles of humanity, and we all need to come together to restore civilized values to our society. We urge law enforcement authorities to bring to justice all those responsible or complicit in this act of terror.”
The Washington-based civil rights organization urged all houses of worship and faith-based and advocacy organizations to take extra security precautions as outlined in its “Best Practices for Mosque and Community Safety” booklet.
The advice in CAIR’s security publication is applicable to all institutions, regardless of organizational mission.
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) has also denounced Saturday’s devastating attack on the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
“With heavy hearts, we extend our deepest condolences to our brothers and sisters in the Jewish community following today’s horrific shooting. This sort of hateful act at a place where people go to find comfort, spirituality and peace is just unthinkable,” said NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee.
“We condemn this anti-semitic, hateful violence, and we stand with the Jewish community in this excruciating moment,” he added.
The group added in its statement sent to AboutIslam.net that in Canada, data from Statistics Canada shows the Jewish community continues to be most commonly targeted by hate crimes, closely followed by anti-Muslim hate crimes – a pattern mirrored in the United States.
In recent years, the total number of hate crimes targeting religious minorities in Canada has continued to increase, signaling a disturbing normalization of xenophobia that is truly alarming.
“Our communities know all too well how utterly devastating an attack on a place of worship is. Our hearts are broken alongside yours. But we recognize that heartbreak, and thoughts and prayers must be bolstered by firm action if we are to confront the hate that is sweeping across both Canada and the United States,” adds Gardee.
“With this in mind, we take this opportunity to reaffirm our long-standing commitment to working hand-in-hand with our Jewish neighbors to find tangible solutions to the intolerance that threatens us all – both across the border and here at home.”
The imam of Toronto mosque, Dr Wael Shihab, has also condemned the attack.
“My thoughts, prayers, and deepest sympathies are with the victims of Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, their families, and loved ones. A violation of one place of worship is a violation of all places of worship,” he wrote on his Facebook page.