Meriden Mosque Members Reflect on New Zealand Shootings

Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden was the victim of a hate crime in 2015.

Members of a mosque in Meriden that was the victim of an act of hate in 2015 are reflecting on the deadly mass shooting in New Zealand, and say the world needs to work harder to focus on love over hate.

At least 49 people were killed in mass shootings at two mosques full of worshipers attending Friday prayers on what the prime minister called "one of New Zealand's darkest days."

What happened at the Ahmadiyya Baitul Aman Mosque in Meriden in no way compares to the horror of the shooting during Friday prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand. But mosque leaders say the way they responded to bullets hitting their house of worship is the only way for love to defeat hate.

“It was nowhere near to the sheer terror and the innocent lives that just got lost over there,” said Wajid Ahmed of his mosque’s experience. In November 2015, a neighbor of the mosque shot 30 shots in the direction of the building. Four of them struck the peaceful place of worship.

"Thank god no one was here during the time we had the bullets come through our walls," Ahmed said.

At the time, convicted mosque shooter Ted Hakey Jr. was a self-proclaimed Muslim hater.

“People when they don’t know something they start hating or it or they start doing something and they try to take things into their own control, terrorism has no religion,” said Dr. Mohammed Qureshi, president of the Connecticut Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

Before his sentencing, Hakey sat down with mosque leaders to apologize. He told NBC Connecticut’s Keisha Grant that the conversation changed his attitude about Islam. The former marine, who was arrested for a hate crime, now spends time spreading the religion’s true meaning in the community.

“We reached out to our neighbor Ted Hakey, and we were able to educate him and once we educated him he’s one of our best friends now,” Qureshi said.

Following this latest attack on his faith, Qureshi says more must be done to bring peace to the world.

“The more you show love and more outreach you do realistically not and you mean from your heart more people listen and the more people join you and that’s how you conquer this hate,” he said.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community is taking part in a peace symposium later this month with Christian and Jewish groups. It was planned before the terror attacks in New Zealand.

It’s happening March 27 at the State Capitol.

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