GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — On Friday at the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute in Grand Rapids, things looked as they always do during midday prayer.
But the message was noticeably different.
Imam Morsy Salem made a special call for calm — and to come together — after 49 of their fellow Muslims were killed in an attack in New Zealand.
It was carried out, at least in part, by a white supremacist who streamed the attack on social media. A manifesto was also posted online with anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim messages.
“It was a big shock for me,” Salem told 24 Hour News 8. “(Because) this is the place that people really seek refuge in God.”
Out of concern, leaders added extra security at the doors during Friday’s prayer services.
Attacks in recent years have forced all religious leaders — not just Muslims — to tighten down.
At the mosque in Grand Rapids, that includes cameras that were upgraded just last year.
“We have a security system that locks automatically — the doors between prayers. Which we never used to do that,” Ali Metwalli, chairman at the Islamic Mosque and Religious Institute, told 24 Hour News 8. “It is unfortunate (it has come to that).”
But, as so often happens, in the wake of evil comes some good.
Rabbi Michael Schadick from the Temple Emanuel in Grand Rapids was the first to reach out to the local mosques after the shooting. The Jewish leader sent flowers and messages of support.
“I feel as if many of them are my extended family,” Schadick said.
“In a moment of tragedy, the silver lining is there is love and commitment to each other that goes beyond our insular bounds,” he continued.
Metwalli said the messages of support provide comfort and relief during a time of concern.
“I think evil brings the good out of us. And we stand up and defend each other,” Metwalli said.