The Chattanooga mosque where Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez worshipped cancelled its festival, marking the end of Ramadan. Community members are allowing people to mourn the four dead Marines he allegedly shot dead, according to the New York Times.
The mosque, under normal circumstances, has anywhere up to 1,000 people who would have been attending a celebration at the Islamic Centre of Greater Chattanooga. The organization’s president, Bassam Issa, issued a statement.
“We have cancelled it. We don’t feel like Eid. This event has taken everything. It is not in our hearts,” Issa said. “The whole community in Chattanooga has come together as one. The smaller Muslim community is no different from the rest.”
The Chattanooga mosque was quick to issue a statement on Thursday, denouncing the violence. It also said members of the local Christian clergy had been in touch with him to say that they were attending.
“We are tremendously saddened by today’s shooting in our home town of Chattanooga, Tennessee,” he said. “Our hearts are with the families of the brave Marines who died today. We condemn this act in the strongest possible terms as one of cowardice and hate.”
The mosque held a service for people to mourn the Marines and held prayers on Friday afternoon and that the imam, or priest, also talked about the tragedy. The Chattanooga members will also join an interfaith service this evening in the city.
He said the community had been very supportive in building the centre, which came up over a period of seven years. Christian pastors often visited the site.
Azhar Sheikh, a board member of the mosque, told reporters that Abdulazeez had only attended the church for a few months. Nobody had detected anything unusual in Chattanooga.
“He kept to himself. But that’s how he’d been since I’d known him,” he said. “Our acquaintance was fleeting. We are very shocked.” He added: “This has just completely blindsided us. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the victims. We share their sorrow.”
Sheikh said some people now feared a backlash against the mosque. “That is a concern: Will there be any acts of reciprocity? We all have families, we all have kids,” he said.
Yet Issa said he believed people’s first concern was for the broader community. “We know who we are,” he said. “We know who Chattanoogans are.”
Four U.S. Marines were killed Thursday after dozens of shots were fired by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeezn at a Navy Reserve training facility in Tennessee. The gunman, who began his two attacks around 10:45 a.m. EDT at a recruiting center in a strip mall before driving around 5 miles to the training facility, was shot dead by local police.
The Chattanooga mosque members are completely stunned by the attack, but they didn’t know the gunman that well. One member of the organization said the tragedy hit “too close to home.”