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‘A Night of Hope & Healing’: Sacramento’s response to the Christchurch mass shooting

‘Hope & Healing’ at Sacramento State in the wake of Christchurch

The Sacramento community gathered at Sacramento State on Saturday to process the tragedy of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 50 people dead. The event featured several prominent local leaders.
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The Sacramento community gathered at Sacramento State on Saturday to process the tragedy of the terrorist attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand that left 50 people dead. The event featured several prominent local leaders.

Sacramento leaders and community organizations gathered Saturday at Sacramento State to process the terrorist attack on two mosques this month in Christchurch, New Zealand, that left 50 people dead.

The Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) organized the event in partnership with several local religious and nonprofit groups to spread a message “of unity and solidarity” in the wake of the killings that were condemned around the world.

The suspect in the attacks, Brenton Harrison Tarrant, is a white supremacist with fascist views who “raged against non-westerners,” according to the Associated Press.

Speakers at the event included Mayor Darrell Steinberg and Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen, as well as faith leaders and mental-health professionals.

In his speech, Steinberg highlighted the threat of white nationalism and extremist views.

“I always want to use the opportunity to speak about some of the underlying truths even if they are hard to talk about. White nationalism is real and it’s growing. It must be stamped out at every turn.” Steinberg said in an interview with The Sacramento Bee.

Basim Elkarra, CAIR’s executive director, said the event was intended to equip the community with skills in dealing with trauma and grief after a tragedy such as the one in Christchurch.

“It’s an event for hope and healing. There have been so many attacks in so many communities, and this one struck so close to (Sacramento). So many of our young people watched the video, because it was on Facebook Live and went viral. It was such a traumatic event.” Elkarra said before the event Saturday.

Dr. Hammad Khan led the discussion on the effects of Islamophobia on mental health. He said hate crimes are on the rise in the United States, a contention backed by FBI data showing such crimes had risen 17 percent in 2017 from the previous year.

“But research has suggested that about 60 percent of those go unreported,” he added.

Abdelrahman Mohamed, an international student and the president of Sacramento State’s Muslim Student Association, said events like the Christchurch tragedy should serve as a wake-up call.

“We have to get together to avoid things like (Christchurch) from happening again,” he said. “New Zealand is not far from here, it’s in the West. It’s not far-fetched to say something like that could happen here. Islamophobia is on the rise.”

Steinberg said Sacramentans can help combat such hate crimes at home.

“We can never give up, and we must always fight for a better world, a more peaceful world,” he said. “In Sacramento, we always have to try to model the best of what I call the best of American values.

“Continue to speak up, continue to insist on change, continue to build a Sacramento we can be proud of.”

In addition to CAIR and the school’s Islamic group, the event was hosted by the Council of Sacramento Valley Islamic Organizations, the Sacramento chapter of the Islamic Circle of North America, the Muslim American Society’s Social Services Foundation and Amala Muslim Youth Hopeline, which provides a counseling service for Muslim youth.

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