Teacher: “I think this shows that racism is still alive”

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MOUNT VERNON -

Security has been beefed up at mosques in the Hudson Valley after a gunman opened fire inside two New Zealand mosques, killing at least 49 people.

The Westchester Muslim Center in Mount Vernon is one of numerous mosques in the country where there will be increased security during prayer services. The imam tells News 12 he requested an increased police presence from Mount Vernon police, but is also relying on security volunteers from the community. He adds there are surveillance cameras in use all over the property.

New Zealand's Prime Minister calls the deadly shootings at two mosques in the city of Christchurch  one of the country's "darkest days." Witnesses describe hearing the gunman shooting continuously for 10-15 minutes during Friday afternoon prayer services. Authorities say they detained four people and had to diffuse explosive devices in what appears to be a carefully planned terrorist attack. Officials say a 28-year-old Australian terrorist claimed responsibility after writing a 74-page manifesto.

A middle school teacher at the center says she wasn’t particularly surprised by the tragedy in New Zealand.  "I really wasn't expecting it in New Zealand out of all places, I know Australia has long history of racism against Muslims, but I don't hear a lot about New Zealand. I think this shows that racism is still alive and there is a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in European countries  and countries all over the world in that way," says Romana Shaikh.

Officials in other cities including Los Angeles, Minneapolis and New York City say they will also be adding extra security around mosques today.

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