Minnesota's faith leaders and state officials Friday denounced the deadly shootings at two New Zealand mosques that killed at least 49 people. The sheriff of Hennepin County and St. Paul's police chief said they are increasing patrols near mosques in response.
A man arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a planned racist attack identified himself as a 28-year-old Australian and white nationalist.
Two other armed suspects also were taken into custody.
In Minnesota, community leaders from various faiths urged state law enforcement officials to form a task force to investigate crimes against people practicing their religion that "lead to these types of heinous crimes that feel so real and so impactful across the world today," said Jaylani Hussein, executive director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
Hussein said a rise in white nationalism and hateful rhetoric continues to concern him. In Minnesota, the Dar al-Farooq Islamic Center in Bloomington was bombed in 2017. No one was injured. Two people have pleaded guilty in that incident and a third is awaiting trial.
Imam Asad Zaman, of the Muslim American Society of Minnesota, said many Muslims in the Twin Cities community were afraid to go to their place of worship Friday.
"It is important for us to acknowledge that hate has consequences, Islamophobia kills, if this was not clear it should be clear from yesterday," Zaman said.
Today our prayers are with those killed at the mosques in New Zealand. Our prayers are for an end to violence and for safety at all houses of worship. pic.twitter.com/GRTKBGAs7x— Basilica Saint Mary (@BasilicaMpls) March 15, 2019
Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz and some law enforcement officials also denounced religion-based violence and hate crimes on social media Friday.
Gwen and I send our deepest sympathies to the families and loved ones of those lost in the tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand. Violence and hatred have no place in our world. To our Muslim brothers and sisters in Minnesota: we stand with you.— Governor Tim Walz (@GovTimWalz) March 15, 2019
Hennepin County Sheriff Dave Hutchinson and St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said they are increasing patrols near mosques. Hutchinson said other police departments have also stepped up patrols.
I was personally able to visit about 20 Mosques today. HCSO staff visited even more. Our goal is to support our community-this means everyone. Tough day but seeing the Appreciation of the people made me feel good. #stophate— Sheriff David P. Hutchinson ‘Hutch’ (@sheriffdhutch) March 15, 2019