Amid increase in antisemitism and Islamophobia, NC Governor calls for more public safety funding

Tom George Image
Wednesday, November 15, 2023
Gov. Cooper joins push to protect houses of worship
As tensions rise around the world, experts suggest more security could help prevent attacks on houses of worship.

NORTH CAROLINA (WTVD) -- As the conflict rages between Israel and Hamas, reports of antisemitism and Islamophobia are on the rise across the country.

Now, Governor Roy Cooper along with 10 other state leaders believe this has become an immediate public safety threat. It's why they've signed on to a letter calling on Congress to take action and provide more funding to keep people safe at houses of worship.

"Vigilance comes at a cost, and we must ensure our constituencies who are threatened by violence have the robust support they need to stay safe. We must secure the safety of our homeland, especially at its heart - where people gather to find comfort and identify in their faiths, cultures, and beliefs," the letter says.

It calls for an expansion on top of the $300 million allocated nationally for FEMA's emergency grant program. Some of that could go towards local public safety support at houses of worship.

"We've been trying to support each other as we witness the ongoing violence in Israel and Gaza some of our members have personal connections and ties to the region," says Associate Rabbi Solomon Hoffman with Kehillah Synagogue.

"Not being able to hear from family members or not knowing where they are so we live it live," says Ahmad Lee with Ibad Ah-Rahman mosque in Durham

Both are places the community leans on and also face a rise in both antisemitism and Islamophobia amid the Israel-Gaza conflict.

In Durham, cameras cover every angle around the Ibad Ar-Rahman mosque, but some of their worshippers are still on edge. In Chapel Hill, they also have security at Kehillah synagogue but even before the war they've had safety scares

"We had a swatting incident where a fake bomb threat was called into our synagogue and we had to evacuate during a Shabbat service," the rabbi says.

It's unclear when that funding might get approval from Congress. In the meantime, faith leaders say they have gotten support from local law enforcement, but they can only be in so many places at once and they would welcome any additional support.

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