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Utahns rally around state’s Muslim community after New Zealand attack

OREM – Dozens of people in Utah County show their support for the state’s Muslim community after the shooting in New Zealand that killed 49 people.

While the service was happening inside the Utah Valley Islamic Center in Orem, people like Dumdi Baribe waited with flowers to give to the people as they came out.  She got emotional thinking about her Muslim friends in Texas.

“I know that this can’t be easy for them to grasp,” she says.

The welcome was planned by Utah County Commissioner Tanner Ainge, who wanted to ease the concerns of Muslims in his county during their Friday services.  Imam Tala’at Al-Shuqairat says it was overwhelming to see.

“It was very spiritual.  It was very healing and very emotional,” he says, adding, “Especially when you see it from the people you live with in your community.  You just feel safe, you feel secure.  You feel blessed that you have that much love around.  It came at a much needed moment.”

Lieutenant Governor Spencer Cox was invited to speak to the congregation.  He says the state government was reeling after hearing about the attack.

“Sometimes, the worst of times brings out the best in people, especially in Utah,” Cox says.

He says the Imam’s message was that of love and peace between religions and he believes that’s a message that people don’t hear enough.

“I hope that in a time of tragedy, they’ll know they have support and they’ll feel like this is a safe place where they can worship.  This state was founded on that idea of religious freedom,” he adds.