PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- Leaders in the Valley’s Muslim community are wrestling with the idea of increasing security at mosques following the massacre in New Zealand.

[RELATED: New Zealand shooting suspect charged with murder]

“We’re taking a little bit more precautions,” says Omar Tawil, assistant Imam at the Islamic Community Center of Tempe. “But at the same time we’re feeling resilient.”

A Tempe police commander arrived at the mosque Friday morning to check in with Tawil. Outside, an officer patrolled the perimeter on foot.

The heightened police presence is expected to be temporary, but the violence in New Zealand has some mosque officials considering permanent solutions to safety, including armed security.

“It’s definitely a precaution that needs to be looked into,” says Tawil.

“I believe it would be better,” says Nokib Islam, board secretary with the Islamic Center of the East Valley. “But I don’t think we need it immediately.”

There’s a lot of apprehension among Muslim leaders about putting armed guards outside a place for worship.

“I hope we don’t get to that point,” says Mohamed El-Sharkawy, chairman of the Arizona Muslim Police Advisory Board. “We don’t want to react to something and spread fear.”

“To see some kind of level of security going on here, they may not feel comfortable,” says Islam.

Tawil says discussions are already underway to determine the best way to prevent violence against their members.

“It’s something that, again, we don’t want to use to cause any panic or alarm for anybody,” says Tawil. “They come to a place that’s sacred for them and we have cowards who do this.”


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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