Houston vigil for New Zealand brings out people of different faiths

People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder in solidarity with the Muslim community. Although New Zealand is on the other side of the world, Houston is with them.

"It was most important to be here with my family," says Muslim community member Ansa Matin. "I have two small kids, so it's important for us to be united." 

Matin expresses the difficulties she has explaining the severe violence of the mosque shooter to her 7-year-old son. That's why she felt it important that he see the unity of those at the vigil, a community coming together in prayer and solidarity against hate.

Elected officials, community members, and leaders of many faiths gathered at the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

"I wanted to be with the community to show my respect," said Linda Burger, CEO of Jewish Family Service.

"It's part of our freedom to be able to worship whoever you want,"said Christian community member, Susan Delgado. "That's what makes America great."

City leaders say a tax on communities of faith have no place in Houston.

"We want you to go to your places of worship," said Mayor Sylvester Turner. "We're going to do everything we can in order for you to go."

Zahoor Gire of the Al Noor Society of Greater Houston says his mosque has again began talking about ways to enhance security, but feels the support of this community.

"With all the support we're getting from all of the faith-based communities and elected officials, we feel safe here in Houston today." 

However, state-wide and nationally, some feel that more needs to be done. 

"These statements, condolences, and getting together, is not going to solve this problem," said Sahail Syed of the Islamic Society of Greater Houston.

Their calls for action went out to the nation's leaders, including President Trump.

"Mr. President, white nationalism is on the rise," Republican Rep. Al Green emphasized.

"Their voices carry a lot of power, more than so many of ours," says Matin. "In their position, they can use that for so much good."

On Sunday evening, the Houston chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relations will be hosting another prayer vigil that will happen at Post Oak Blvd. and Westheimer beginning at 7 p.m.