Oklahoma Islamic groups created a space for Muslims to pray for Palestinians in Gaza after waiting to make sure anyone who wanted to be there would be safe.

CAIR-Oklahoma wants the event to be a way for anyone to share stories of family and friends in Gaza. But they also said they believe that prayer for the people in those stories is important.

“The community needed something to come together and to provide support for one another and some even slight emotional relief for all the challenges in Israel,” Adam Soltani with CAIR-OK said.

The Prayers for Palestine event is about giving Muslims in Oklahoma City a chance to be together and share stories about loved ones in Gaza.

“We have to offer prayers for the people who are suffering and to those connected directly to them, but we also felt it was important to highlight the stories of the real human beings,” Soltani said.

The local Council on American-Islamic Relations said they have been wanting to have an event for Palestine but had good reason to wait.

“We had to take our time in putting together an event like this because we wanted to ensure that not only would it be a beneficial event for the community,” Soltani said. “It’s unfortunate that we had to hire a private security company to ensure that people coming would be safe.”

Since Hamas attacked Israel, local leaders said they have felt a rise in Islamophobia.

“To be a Muslim in Oklahoma and in America right now, it is something in which you have to stay cautious and look out for the safety of not only yourself but your community members and your family,” Soltani said.

The group hopes the event will help Oklahomans understand the conflict better.

“We’re going to be providing some educational materials tonight for attendees so that they can do that,” Soltani said. “This could act as a catalyst for others outside of the Muslim community or the Palestinian community to come together and be able to show support for their fellow Oklahomans.”

Prayers for Palestine will be held at 7 p.m. Friday across from the Islamic Society of Greater Oklahoma City building on Clair Avenue.