Police on LI boost mosque patrols in response to New Zealand attacks

Posted: Updated:
WOODBURY -

Police in Nassau and Suffolk counties are increasing patrols around mosques and other houses of worship islandwide following the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand that killed at least 49 people.

Dr. Hafiz Rehman, of the Muslim Center of Long Island, couldn't hold back his tears when talking about the worshippers brutally gunned down in New Zealand.

"It's very sad," he said.

MORE: 49 killed at mosques in 'one of New Zealand's darkest days'

In Bay Shore, mosque worshippers said their afternoon prayers under the protection of several police officers. Suffolk police also sent a community relations officer to the mosque to answer any questions.

In Nassau County, heavily armed patrolmen could be seen standing guard outside a mosque in Westbury.

Nassau Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder offered reassuring words to the religious community.

"This is a place you come to pray," he said. "This is a place where you should feel safe and secure. My job is to make sure you feel that."

Officials say there's no credible threat to Long Island and that the increased patrols are out of an abundance of caution.

Both county executives condemned the New Zealand act of terror and a wave of fear and hatred that they say is fueling violence both abroad and at home.

While Rehman says he's thankful for the police protection, he wishes the mosque didn't need it.

"This has to stop," he said.

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan starts in early May. Officials say stepped-up patrols will continue through the holiday.

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