Albuquerque’s Muslim community in fear after the murder of three men in 10 days | New Mexico

Three Muslim men have been killed in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in just 10 days, stoking fear in one of America’s smallest Muslim communities as police warn the deaths may be linked.

The killings also followed the November 2021 killing of Mohammad Ahmadi, another Muslim, who local advocates and law enforcement officials say may also be linked to the more recent attacks.

Law enforcement officials said there was a “strong possibility” the victims were targeted because of their race and religion.

In the latest attack, Nayeem Hossain was shot on Friday afternoon as he returned from the burial of the other two victims, Aftab Hussein and Muhammad Afzaal Hussain, who were shot on July 26 and August 1 respectively.

His fiancé, who was on the phone with him, heard the gunshot as he waited in a parking lot. Hossain became a US citizen just two weeks ago.

Since the latest killings, the local Muslim community has been on edge and trying to stay as much as possible, Dr. Mahmoud Eldenawi, imam of the Islamic Center of New Mexico in Albuquerque, told The Guardian on Saturday.

“Especially when evening comes, no one goes out, they rush to finish everything during the day,” he said. “Except in an emergency, they don’t leave the house in the evening. Everyone thinks he’s a target.

“We are religious leaders, we ask people to be strong, but we are human, we care about our wife and children,” Eldenawi said.

Abbas Akhil, who founded the Islamic center, added that they had asked Muslim students, especially those from Pakistan living around the campus, to be vigilant.

The killings took place within a mile of the area surrounding the University of New Mexico campus, Akhil said.

On Saturday, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham sentenced the killings and said they were “deeply resentful and utterly intolerable”.

“I am sending additional state troopers to Albuquerque to work in close coordination with the ODA and FBI to bring the killer(s) to justice – and they will be found,” she said.

“From what law enforcement is saying, it’s troubling,” Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told the Guardian, adding that the council was trying to coordinate the local Muslim community.

Hate crimes targeting race and religion have the highest number of victims among other types of hate crimes in the state.

Eldenawi of the Islamic Center said he was pleased with the response from local law enforcement who were monitoring them and since Friday’s killing had six to seven members at the mosque to monitor any potential threats.

They also patrolled the area, he said.

The mosque usually attracts between 300 and 400 people during Friday prayers, a holy day for Muslims.

He mentioned that the community has also received support and solidarity from local Christian and Jewish communities.

Eldenawi, who has been in the community for 10 months, said the incidents came as a shock to him, as he had not experienced any discrimination in either Albuquerque or Arkansas, where he had lived for seven years. previously.

With the exception of an attack in which a woman tried to set fire to the mosque, he faced no discrimination or hate crime, he said.

Akhil, who founded the Islamic center and has lived in the community for 50 years, echoed this.

“Never,” he said. “New Mexico is not the type of state where I would expect something like this – it is a very inclusive state. It brought people to tears to have two funerals at the same time.

Despite the attacks, Eldenawi said he had no fear of being in the public eye as a religious leader.

“I’m meant to empower people, we should never let evil rule our lives,” he said.

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