Leeds mosque joins the prayers for victims of mass shooting in New Zealand
Hundreds of Muslims came together today in unity following the shooting at a mosque in New Zealand.
Worshippers at Leeds Grand Mosque this afternoon sobbed while extra special prayers were said for the 49 people who were killed during the masscre in Christchurch.
The victims were killed at two mosques after a right-wing extremist went on a shooting spree. The first calls to police were made at about 1.40pm local time (12.40am GMT).
Brenton Tarrant, 28, from Australia, appeared to have live-streamed the terror attack and outlined his anti-immigrant motives in a manifesto posted online.
The country's police commissioner, Mike Bush, said 49 people were confirmed dead and that a man in his late 20s has been charged with murder.
Security has since been stepped up at mosques around the country including the Hyde Park mosque, after calls from concerned parents. There were extra patrols outside the building as the worshippers attended Friday prayers.
Sheikh Taher told the congregation: "We woke to the devastating news of what happened to our brothers and sisters in Christchurch, New Zealand and how innocent men. women and children were killed for no reason.
"The hand of crime, the hand of evil, the hand of terror has no religion, has no colour, has no race and this is a hand which is cut off from Allah. It is a sinful hand driven by hate, jealousy and anger."
As worshippers from the Muslim community of Hyde Park and the surrounding area continued to pour into the service Mr Taher, the leader of the community urged worshippers to show patience and gratitude in testing times and trials.
He added: "This is what our religion teaches us - that these trials and tests come our way and we show patience, our beliefs remain firm and do not allow a calamity to shake you or your beliefs."
He asked the community to stay behind for the Janazah prayer. It does not form part of the usual service but the Islamic funeral prayer was read especially for the victims and their families.
Meanwhile, city leaders expressed their shock at the attack.
West Yorkshire Police Temporary Chief Constable John Robins said: “We stand together with our Muslim communities and all those shocked and horrified by this terrorist attack in New Zealand.
“Today’s tragic events demonstrate that attacks can occur at any time and without warning. There is no new increased threat to West Yorkshire. The UK threat level remains at Severe meaning an attack is highly likely. Today we are stepping up reassurance patrols around places of worship and increasing engagement with communities of all faiths.
“We are committed to keeping the people of West Yorkshire safe and will continue to review the situation in regular liaison with our partner agencies to ensure we are doing everything we can around the clock to allow people to go about their daily lives."
Coun Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, added: “We are shocked and saddened to learn of the terrible events in Christchurch and our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with all the victims and their families.
“On behalf of the council, I have been in touch with representatives of the Muslim community here in Leeds to express our condolences and offer a message of support, unity and togetherness at this difficult time.”