With large crowds expected each night for Ramadan, leaders of an Oklahoma City mosque have asked local law enforcement for increased patrols of the area, a Muslim leader said Monday.
Saad Mohammed, spokesman for the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City, said the request was fueled by concerns about anti-Muslim backlash in the aftermath of the Orlando mass shooting.
“We are as much against this as anyone else. We just want everyone to live in peace,” Mohammed said.
And the metro-area mosque is not the only Islamic house of worship experiencing uneasiness.
A spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Tulsa said leaders there also requested that Tulsa police provide increased patrols for their mosque.
Authorities say an American-born Muslim named Omar Mateen killed at least 49 people and critically wounded dozens more early Sunday at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Mateen, who pledged allegiance to Islamic State in a 911 call about the time of the attack, died in a gunbattle with SWAT team members.
Mohammed said the Oklahoma City Islamic society already has security for the mosque in the form of volunteers, but leaders are especially concerned for the Muslim faith community’s safety because many will visit the mosque at 3815 St. Clair each night through July 5 for Ramadan prayer
“We did call for extra patrols. We don’t want anyone who wants to paint all Muslims with the same brush to do anything in backlash to what happened in Orlando,” he said.
Ramadan, the holy month of fasting, began June 6. During the month, observant Muslims abstain from food, drink and sensual pleasures from dawn to sunset. One of the five pillars — or obligations — of Islam, Ramadan, commemorates the divine revelation of the Quran to the Prophet Muhammad.
After meeting for prayers at their mosques, many Muslims stay afterward to enjoy iftar, the meal held at sundown to break the Ramadan fast.
Anti-Muslim backlash is unfortunate, Mohammed said, particularly because the city Islamic society and several other mosques and Islamic organizations across the state have condemned the Orlando violence.
Sheryl Siddiqui, spokeswoman for the Islamic Society of Tulsa, said the society’s leaders have their own regular security but have brought in Tulsa police for all the regularly scheduled Ramadan events.
“Because of what’s happened in Orlando, we feel it’s just prudent to take precautions,” she said.
Siddiqui said “Look-in on Ramadan,” an annual community outreach event held during the holy month, will continue as planned Thursday at the Tulsa Islamic society’s Peace Academy adjacent to the mosque, 4630 S Irvington Ave. She said expected attendance for the event has risen significantly after many members of the community-at-large found out about it at an interfaith candlelight vigil held Sunday in Tulsa.
Siddiqui said the Orlando shooting was “heartbreaking.”
“While we’re also protecting ourselves, we wish we could protect the others around us,” she said.
Meanwhile, both Mohammed and Siddiqui said they were unaware of any threats made to their respective mosques.
The requests for increased patrols at the two mosques comes as a free workshop entitled “Protecting Houses of Worship” is set for Tuesday evening at the Oklahoma City University School of Law.
CONTRIBUTING: The Associated Press