PARMA, Ohio - Hundreds of Muslims are meeting this evening and every evening throughout Ramadan at local mosques.
There will be 400 people at the Islamic Center of Cleveland every night this week and more than 1,000 Muslims will pack into the mosque, the largest in Northeast Ohio, on Friday night, the holy night to pray during Ramadan.
There is a concern though among many, that what happened in London could easily happen to Muslims at the Islamic Center of Cleveland.
A vehicle and a lone attacker is all it took to cause chaos on the streets of London.
“If somebody could do this so easily by using their vehicle as a weapon, they could hurt a lot of people,” said Shehadeh Abdelkarim, the President of the Islamic Center of Cleveland.
Abdelkarim, has worked at the Islamic Center of Cleveland for more than a decade. Never in that time, he says, has he seen so much hatred towards Muslims as he does today.
“I pray for peace, I pray for understanding, I pray for people to recognize evil for what it is and not to attribute actions to the whole religion,” he said.
This is one of the holiest times of the year for Muslims. Abdelkarim says thousands of people will show up to his mosque to worship this week. Many have expressed concern to him that the violence in London may not be isolated. But security cameras positioned on the outside of this mosque aren’t at the only measures being taken to protect worshipers.
“We have been using a police officer to be stationed outside the mosque, during the nightly prayers. On Friday we have up to three police officers just to be present and to make sure we have safety concerns addressed by the administration without spreading fear,” he said.
A large festival to celebrate the end of Ramadan will be taking place at the mosque at the end of this month. Abdelkarim says the mosque leadership already has a plan in place to make sure vehicles cannot come close enough to cause harm.