Although there are thousands of miles between them, the Muslim Community of Knoxville is feeling the impact of a terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. The first change Friday morning: extra security.
Knoxville Police Department cruisers monitored Knoxville’s Annoor Mosque with extra coverage, although there is always a dedicated KPD officer assigned to the mosque, especially during scheduled prayer services.
At Annoor Academy of Knoxville, school was already planned to be out Friday, there was still a KPD crusier monitoring the grounds.
The added precautions, to give local worshippers peace of mind.
“Whenever an act of terrorism happens within a worship service, or a house of worship, it always is troubling because largely it’s a place that you expect to be safe and defines solace and comfort,” said Maha Ayesh, President of the Muslim Community of Knoxville.
Ayesh says after acts of violence, the Knoxville community transcends the inner faith community, to rally around the Muslim community, or any group impacted.
“It’s very comforting and reassuring, I think it’s reflective of what people believe and feel,” said Ayesh.
On the walls of the mosque, letters and notes of acceptance and love hang together.
The written words came pouring in after other acts of violence against the Muslim commuity. They’re sent by neighbors, Knoxville leaders, and commuity members to remind those that worship in Knoxville, mainly saying, “You are welcome here.”
After the terror attack in New Zealand, Ayesh says she began receiving messages of love and concern almost immediately. She says the Knoxville community steps up in times of need to ensure local members are at peace.