Security for Ramadan Increased in Response to Recent Attacks on Religious Institutions

Security for Ramadan Increased in Response to Recent Attacks on Religious Institutions

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed State Police to increase their presence near houses of worship across the state as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed State Police to increase their presence near houses of worship across the state as Muslims prepare for the holy month of Ramadan. Cuomo’s move is part of a larger effort to increase security and safety at houses of worship following multiple attacks on synagogues and churches recently.

Abu Islam, trustee of the Islamic Center of Rochester, said that congregants are worried about their safety while celebrating Ramadan.

“This year with everything that’s happening around the world, they’re worried that, when I’m praying, facing The Qibla, what’s happening at my back?” Islam said.

According to Islam, recent attacks on religious institutions, such as the synagogue shootings in San Diego and Pittsburgh and the Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka, have members of the Islamic Center of Rochester concerned.

“It’s unfortunate that we’re even discussing this," Islam said. "Not only mosques, any place for worship, people want to come there for some peace, some tranquility, so they can worship their creator and when they leave become more rejuvenated.”

Ramadan, which begins Sunday, May 5, is an Islamic holy month involving fasting, prayer and charity.

“It’s a month where we train ourselves to avoid bad things, and do good things," Islam said. "And the goal is if you can do it for a month, it ingrains a habit so you can do it for the rest of the year.”

The ICR is working with the Brighton Police Department to provide a sense of security for worshippers.

“We just want people to feel safe," said Chief Mark Henderson of Brighton PD. "We want people to feel protected when they’re in their house of worship.”

According to Henderson, the department has been doing a lot of outreach with faith-based communities after last year’s Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. The outreach includes training and response planning.

The department has also been meeting regularly with the ICR to put plans in place for security during Ramadan, though Henderson declined to go into detail.

“From a perspective of wanting the members of ICR to feel safe, they’ll see a Brighton police car driving through the parking lot," Henderson said. "There’ll be a Brighton police car that’ll be parked there.”

Islam said the police presence will give worshippers the feeling of security and peace of mind to be able to focus on holy month activities.

“It’s the message we try to propagate to our worshippers that we are in a friendly place and we have neighbors and law enforcement that are looking over us, so don’t feel scared to come,” Islam said.

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