JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The Friday prayer service at the Islamic Center of Northeast Florida focused on the 49 people killed in two separate shootings at mosques in New Zealand.
Police identified the shooter as a white nationalist from Australia.
“You may be from different parts of the world, different faith traditions, but remember you do not need to hate each other,” said Ashraf Shaikh, of the Islamic center’s board of trustees.
Among the hundreds of worshippers at the service was a man in a blue hat known as Baba Johnny.
“It breaks my heart,” he said.
Baba Johnny is a Christian. The hat he wore into the prayer service reads “Jesus paid it all.”
But despite the differences in religion, he goes to the Islamic center several times a month.
“You see the similarities, not the differences,” Baba Johnny said. “Our differences are vast but we come together to be friends to take care of each other.”
At the prayer service, Imam Bilal Malik told worshippers their faith needs to get stronger, after the shootings.
“God’s guidance is not limited to only those who may happen to call themselves Muslim,” Shaikh said. “We are so fortunate to be living in Jacksonville. It’s a wonderful community, and I hope to god there are not too many instances where we have to feel each other’s pain."