Charlotte mosques increase security following New Zealand terrorist attacks

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — There will be extra security at Charlotte mosques during Friday afternoon prayer services after the terror attacks in New Zealand.

Forty-nine people were killed and another 48 were injured after a terrorist went on a shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, the third largest city in New Zealand.

[New Zealand shootings: Death toll rises to 49 in attacks at 2 mosques]

Atif Chaudhry is Imam of the Islamic Society of Greater Charlotte.

He said local Muslims have been fortunate because they haven’t faced any physical violence.

After 9/11, crowds of protesters gathered across the street from the mosque in northeast Charlotte, but Chaudhry said their neighbors stepped in to help. Now, he said their neighbors are helping once again.

“I’m very proud of the Charlotte community,” Chaudhry said.

He told Channel 9 some local Jewish rabbis and Christian pastors have reached out to him since the attack in New Zealand.

“It’s hard. It really is. It’s hard. We’re going to process this, and we’re going to move forward, and we’re not going to let the terrorists and people who want to spread this hate win,” he said.

The extra security is needed for the Friday afternoon prayers because it's important to Muslims the way a Sunday morning service is important to Christians, which is why the terrorists targeted that specific prayer time in New Zealand.

“This is something that is tragic, but we will not let them win and achieve their goals and terrorize us,” Chaudhry said.

He estimates there are 10,000 to 20,000 Muslims in the Charlotte area. He said there are also about a dozen mosques and places to pray.

Chaudhry said, “This is something that is tragic, but we will not let them win and achieve their goals and terrorize us into choosing security or coming to our place of worship.”

On Friday morning, President Donald Trump tweeted his sympathies for New Zealand, saying it was a “horrible massacre” and “49 innocent people have so senselessly died.”