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Calif. Mosque Gets Negative Attention After Shooters Are ID'd As Muslims


Saul Gonzalez of member station KCRW has been reporting in the Muslim community in San Bernardino. And Saul, where have you been?

SAUL GONZALEZ, BYLINE: Well, Steve, where I've been is the mosque that Syed Rizwan Farook attended in recent months. It's on the east side of San Bernardino. And I talked to many of the congregants there and to a man. And they were all men I was talking to. They were just shocked and aghast at this. They say that Farook was your quintessential quiet man. He would come to the mosque, pray and go, engage in chitchat. They said he absolutely showed no signs of being an angry man, of being hotheaded, of having any particular radical ideology or being a jihadi-in-training, nothing like that, never talked about guns. So they're in a state of shock, but it's the shock that's also turning into some fear. They are concerned now about possible reprisals against the mosque. They have already gotten some threatening phone calls and emails. And when I talked to them, they were wondering about perhaps, you know, posting guards outside of the mosque during prayers just to make sure, you know, everything was secure on the property.

INSKEEP: How big is the Muslim community in San Bernardino?

GONZALEZ: It's surprisingly large, Steve, and one reason because it's - particularly for a Muslim immigrant, it's an affordable place to live in Southern California. San Bernardino's an inland community. It's cheaper there than the coastal community, so a lot of immigrants wind up there because they can afford an apartment, a home to buy, and those who are Muslim and non-Muslim immigrants.

INSKEEP: Is there anyone in this community that is seeing a larger political message here, something that would be even slightly in sympathy with what might have been plausibly in the mind of Farook when opening fire?

GONZALEZ: No, I have heard - I was at - I talked to many Muslims yesterday, went to a couple of different mosques, his mosque and another's, and there was absolutely no expression of sympathy. Again, there was shock. It was a outrage. I think there was some weariness that, oh, here it goes again, another incident involving a Muslim. We have to have these press conferences. We have to tell our fellow non-Muslim Americans that you should not be afraid of us, that we want to build bridges to other communities. And so I think there's some of that. It's kind of an exhaustion when it comes to re-explaining the Muslim community and its peaceful intentions.

INSKEEP: Well, Saul, thanks very much for your reporting this morning, really appreciate it.

GONZALEZ: Thanks, Steve.

INSKEEP: That's reporter Saul Gonzalez of member station KCRW. He is in San Bernardino, Calif. this morning. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Saul Gonzales
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