The aftermath: Local Muslims reflect on New Zealand

Local News

New Zealand’s Parliament has voted 119 to 1 to change the country’s gun laws.  This goes into affect Friday, April 12.

The new law bans military-style semi-automatic weapons.  This takes place less than a month after a mass shooting left 50 people dead at two Christchurch mosques.

Though it happened thousands of miles away, Muslims around the world are still feeling the affects of that day, including in New England.  The president of the Islamic Society of Vermont says his faith gets him through even the darkest of days.

“I knew God saved me and he gave me another chance,” says Nedzad Halilovic.  “My faith means everything to me because from my life experience, I was supposed to be dead many times.”

Nedzad has been in Vermont for 20 years with his wife and children.  They escaped Bosnia after the war.

“I saw for one night, in one hour, the Serbians killed 200 Muslims in front of my eyes,” he says.  “During the war in Bosnia, I was in a concerntration camp with the Serbians and after the war I had no place to live.”

On March 15, a gunman killed 50 people and injured dozens more at two mosques in New Zealand.  It prompted further alliance between the Islamic Society of Vermont and local law enforcement.  While prayer continues, Colchester police now stand watch outside.

“Everywhere there are bad people, it doesn’t matter color or religion,” says Nedzad.

For Nedzad, the good outweighs the bad.  Friends and neighbors have shown his community they’re not alone.

“We received thousands of calls, text messages, and emails from people supporting us,” says Nedzad.  “People sent us cards and flowers and students even brought us a cake.”

While hate will always exist, Nedzad says he’ll always rely on his faith and on those around him who also pray for peace.

“I hope humanity can open their eyes because we are humans and this life is short anyway.”

The donation box at this mosque has been broken into three times since September.  The latest crime happened in the beginning of March.  Colchester police are still looking for the person, or persons responsible.

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