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Nevada Muslim Scholar Reacts To New Zealand Shooting

Flowers lie in Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor Mosque in remembrance of the 50 people killed in the two mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Fiona Goodall/Getty Images

Flowers lie in Hagley Park opposite the Al Noor Mosque in remembrance of the 50 people killed in the two mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand.

Friday’s massacre at two mosques by a man New Zealand authorities call a right-wing terrorist shocked the world, but especially Muslims, including those in Las Vegas. 

Nevada’s Muslim population is less than 1 percent of the entire state. Roughly 10,000 Muslims live in Las Vegas. 

Nasser Karimian is a resident scholar at the Islamic Society of Nevada. He told KNPR's State of Nevada that perhaps he has become desensitized to these kinds of attacks.

“I can’t say that I was shocked," he said, "It was horrific, of course.”

Karimiam said that in Islam Friday is a day to gather as a community, a time to listen to an uplifting lecture, and a time to get motivated for the week ahead.

He said it would be hard to process what it would be like to go to the mosque expecting that kind of a spiritual uplift only to find bloodshed.

However, Karimiam was impressed with the response to the attack by Nevada's law enforcement community. In New Zealand, it was Friday morning, but in Las Vegas, it was Thursday night.

He said law enforcement immediately contacted people at mosques around Nevada to let them know more security would be assigned. 

“I’m so grateful. I feel indebted to a beautiful society that demonstrates that they stand for keeping to the letter of the law and making sure people are law-abiding citizens,” he said.

He said the reaction of the Muslim community has been varied. Some people want to talk about extra security, others want to talk about ways to reach out to the rest of the faith communities and still, others want to make sure the community gets more involved with politics.

Karimiam as a different message for those who are angered by what happened.

“I would say transform that raw rage and energy try to focus it into something productive,” he said. 

He said just yelling and being angry about injustice or tragedy does nothing. Instead, he wants people to look for something positive they can do in their own community - no matter what the community is.

As for the people who hate Islam and Muslim people, Karimian said it is important to reach out to people who are buying the message that all Muslims are dangerous. 

“It is so important for us to reach out to those people and to make them realize that this is not reality. This is not representative of the masses," he said.

And the reality is the tenants of Islam are not much different from other religions around the world - be good to one another, worship God, live a good life and know that you will answer to God for what you have done, both good and bad.

Nasser Karimian, Resident Scholar, Islamic Society of Nevada

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Since June 2015, Fred has been a producer at KNPR's State of Nevada.