Local mosque reacts to New Zealand shooting

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EAST LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - The deadly shooting at two Christchurch, New Zealand, mosques is at the top of minds for people at a Mid-Michigan Islamic center Friday.

It's a time of healing for everyone around the world. One Mid-Michigan woman stood alone outside the Islamic Center of East Lansing with a sign to show the Islamic community they are loved.

"We are heartbroken. A mosque is a place of worship people seek sanctuary there. And for a heinous crime of this nature to happen at a mosque it was a shock to all of us," said Thasin Sardar, Islamic Center of East Lansing outreach coordinator.

The Muslim community was brutally targeted when an attack took the lives of 49 people and injured dozen at two mosques, Friday afternoon in New Zealand.

"We have some political leaders making reckless statements and what this person in New Zealand did was he weaponized those statements," said Sardar.

Nicole Ellefson, a Jewish woman, knows this pain and the need for solidarity all too well, after the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh Oct. 27, 2018.

Friday she greeted those going into the Islamic Center of East Lansing with a sign that read "you are loved."

"I believe love is the answer and the only path that we can't allow people to monger fear and divide us. So, as a Jewish person, I am here to stand with my Muslim brother and sisters," said Ellefson.

The Islamic Center of East Lansing holds a regularly scheduled prayer on Fridays. However, after the mass shooting, there was an addition to their prayers to the more than four dozen killed in New Zealand.

"What we offered was a funeral prayer in absentia for the people who were massacred in the mosque out there. We remember them and we asked for them to be granted the highest place in paradise in the shade of our Lord all mighty," said Sardar.

A 28-year-old white male with white supremacist views, according to reports, has been arrested and charged with murder.

Reports said he used a helmet-mounted camera to live broadcast a 17-minute video of the shooting on Facebook.

Police said they also defused two explosive devices found in a nearby car. Two other armed suspects were taken into custody to determine their roles in the shooting.

The prime minister of New Zealand said this was one of New Zealand's "darkest days."

New Zealand is normally so peaceful that police officers there rarely carry guns.