CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A gunman opened fire at two different mosques in New Zealand during prayers on Friday, killing 50 people. Many more were wounded.
Vigils are taking place across the country in the wake of a devastating shooting in Christchurch.
Here in Charlotte, the Muslim community planned a tribute for those killed in New Zealand.
Sunday, March 17, community members gathered at First Ward Park to memorialize those killed in the attack.
"We're grieving the loss of the Muslim victims,” said Naim Muhammad, Imam at Masjid Ash-Shaheed. “But our hearts are also sad and grieving the loss of anybody who loses their life to any type of hate or injustice."
News of the attacks in New Zealand quickly spread around the world, and struck a nerve among the Muslim community in Charlotte.
"There is a huge sense of fear in the community,” said Naqash Choudhery, community liaison for the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte. “Even this event today, I had people reach out to me and contact, 'Hey, there's going to be police on site, right? There's going to be security no site, right?’”
Those gathered at First Ward Park aimed to show that even through tragedy, hate will not win.
"We want to overcome this fear,” said Choudhery. “We want to ensure people that, listen, not everyone is evil in this world."
The recent attack is causing the community to be more prepared, with a plan to create a joint security committee ensuring all mosques follow the same security protocol.
"I hope we're better prepared, but I still pray to God that nothing like this ever happens in our community,” Choudhery said.
Muslim leaders in Charlotte hope for more of understanding among all people.
"The more that we know about each other and care for each other ... the best that we can evade any type of differences that we may have," Muhammad said.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department reached out to mosques and Muslim community member across Charlotte Friday.
CMPD wanted to let them know about the safety presentation it has presented at hundreds of houses of worship throughout the region.