Islamic Center of New Mexico gets second set of eyes during Ramadan

Police surveillance cameras

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There’s an extra pair of eyes watching over the Islamic Center of New Mexico on Yale near Avenida Cesar Chavez as of late.

“It’s a level of comfort for our community to have them there,” Abbas Akhil said, member and former president of the ICNM.

Akhil is referring to mobile surveillance cameras recently put in the parking lot of the ICNM by Albuquerque Police.

“It’s just another precaution to make sure our community is safe in here and that we don’t have an incident where we are attacked,” Serene Akkad, member of ICNM, said.

Akhil says the mosque recently requested the cameras for Ramadan, a time when the ICNM is busier than usual with people coming and going to pray five times a day.

“The mayor’s office is always really cooperative and they understand the security concerns we have,” Akhil said.

KRQE News 13 asked if those concerns stem from recent global events, particularly in the UK. But the mosque says, no.

Rather, the concerns can be traced back several years when the ICNM was the target of hate crimes.

In 2014, a molotov cocktail was hurled at the mosque, scorching the building. Then in 2010, someone threw a burning Quran at the center.

There have been a few issues lately, too.

“We’ve had people walk by, throw things at kids playing in the playground,” Akkad said.

For Akkad, the cameras and extra lighting offer a sense of safety, especially, she believes, at a time when the rhetoric from the White House could encourage hateful acts against Muslims.

On the local government level, though, both Akkad and Akhil say the mosque feels backed by the mayor and Albuquerque Police.

“It means a lot. I mean, they’re showing their support and their contributions to keeping us safe,” Akkad said.

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