ORLANDO, Fla. — Centers of worship across the state have increased their attention to security recently following a rash of violent incidents at churches and religious services. However, for one Orlando mosque, security has been a priority for quite some time.


“The worshippers don’t feel that comfortable coming to the mosque when they see these things happening in the world,” said Tariq Rasheed, the imam at the Islamic Center of Orlando. 

Tariq said his heart hurts after hearing about the attack on Jews in New York and the fatal shooting at a church in Texas. Safety during services is a constant worry on his mind.

“We do not enjoy arranging security for our mosque. That’s the least thing we enjoy,” he said. 

As Tariq explained, security been a priority for the mosque for about seven years. The Islamic Center of Orlando has worked with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office and private security companies to be prepared for an active shooter event. 

“The places of worship should be immune of violence," he told us. "This is where you come to be at peace with God, and for such heinous actions to be taken place, it’s really heartbreaking.”

The mosque has volunteers who sign up to enforce security during services, especially during Ramadan, a month for fasting. In addition, the mosque is expanding — next year the facility will be 23,000 square feet, meaning more volunteers will be needed. 

For 31 years this mosque has been untouched by violence. Tariq said he hopes it can stay that way.

“These shootings at synagogues and churches should be an eye opener for people," he said. "Let's stop talking about hate, let's stop spreading hate. Let's talk about peace, try to bring unity and compassion back to the hearts of people.”