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Interfaith Vigil Planned For Washington Square Park In Wake Of New Zealand Terror Attack

Rabbis Lauren Grabelle Herrmann and Mira Rivera outside the Islamic Cultural Center on Riverside Drive earlier today
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Rabbis Lauren Grabelle Herrmann and Mira Rivera outside the Islamic Cultural Center on Riverside Drive earlier today via Lauren Grabelle Herrmann

New Yorkers will gather at Washington Square Park on Friday afternoon to show solidarity with victims of the white supremacist terrorist attack on two mosques in New Zealand last night, which left 49 dead and dozens injured. The interfaith prayer session begins at 4:30 p.m., and will be hosted by the nonprofit group Muslim Community Network NY.

The event was initially scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m., but was moved up an hour so that Shabbat-observant Jews could attend. "Our hearts are breaking," the progressive Jewish organization Bend the Arc wrote on Twitter. "This is true solidarity even in a moment of intense grief and pain. Jews and Muslims will ALWAYS resist white nationalism."

The attack, believed to be the deadliest in New Zealand's history, occurred at two Christchurch mosques during the Friday evening prayers. A man in his 20s has been apprehended and faces murder charges, while two men and a woman have been detained. Officials say that one of the people in custody is an Australian citizen.

The gunman's rifles reportedly included several white supremacist symbols, including the number 14, a possible reference to the Nazi slogan linked to Hitler's "Mein Kampf." A manifesto believed to be written by the suspect praises President Donald Trump, as well as a Norwegian white supremacist who murdered 77 people.

Earlier today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations called on the president to "clearly" condemn the mosque shootings as a "white supremacist" attack, which he has not done.

In New York City, police have stepped up their security presence at local mosques, though Mayor Bill de Blasio has noted that there is "no specific or credible threat at this time."

The city's response to the latest terror attack has also prompted comparisons to the aftermath of the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting, in which Muslim New Yorkers stood shoulder to shoulder with the grieving Jewish community to say Kaddish.

Currently, an interfaith group of New Yorkers are observing Jummah, the traditional Muslim prayer held on Fridays, at the NYU Islamic Center. The mayor is also scheduled to visit the Islamic Cultural Center on the Upper East Side at 5 p.m. tonight. We'll update this post as additional solidarity events are planned through Friday and the weekend.

UPDATE 3/16/19 Members of the Jackson Heights community will meet at Diversity Plaza at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for an interfaith vigil mourning the victims of the Christchurch attack. Participants are encouraged to bring candles. More info here.

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