WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden has denounced the recent killings of four Muslim men in New Mexico state that police are treating as a hate crime against Muslims.

“I am angered and saddened by the horrific killings of four Muslim men in Albuquerque,” President Biden said on Twitter on Sunday. “While we await a full investigation, my prayers are with the victims’ families, and my administration stands strongly with the Muslim community. These hateful attacks have no place in America.”

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham called the killings “wholly intolerable” and said she was sending additional state police officers to Albuquerque to aid in the investigation. “We will continue to do everything we can to support the Muslim community of Albuquerque and greater New Mexico,” she said.

A Muslim community leader in the city of Albuquerque, where the killings happened, said the assurances were much needed.

“Incredibly terrified. Panicked. Some people want to move from the state until this thing is over. Some people have moved from the state,” Ahmad Assed, president of the Islamic Center of New Mexico (ICNM), told CNN. “Businesses are closing ... early. Students won’t leave their homes.”

ICN’s Director Public Affairs Tahir Gauba said the area’s Christian and Jewish groups are holding an interfaith meeting at the ICNM mosque on Tuesday, where they would pray with Muslims to underline their support for the community.

A Jewish community centre has offered to deliver halal food to the area’s Muslims “if they are afraid of going out to do grocery,” Gauba said.

Two of the victims — Mohammad Afzal Hussain and Naeem Hussein — were Pakistanis. Two others — Aftab Hussain and Mohammad Ahmadi — were Afghans, although they lived in Pakistan too as refugees before migrating to the United States.

Afzal Hussain, 27, was born in Hujra Shah Moqeem in 1994, was killed on Aug 1 near his home, while Naeem Hussain, 25, was killed on Friday. He was from the former Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Aftab Hussain, 41, was killed on July 26 in the city’s international district. Mohammad Ahmadi, 62, the first victim of this senseless violence, was killed in November behind the halal market he and his brother owned.

Afzal’s brother Mohammad Imtiaz Hussain said the White House contacted the ICNM soon after the Aug 1 murder. “Even President Biden issued a statement.”

Published in Dawn, August 9th, 2022

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