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News of the alleged shooter's religion instantly made this a delicate moment for the nation's Muslims, and many have been offering prayers for the victims. Muslim groups say what the alleged shooter did was a brutal act and a personal act. NPR's Carrie Kahn reports.

CARRIE KAHN: Muslim leaders across the country were quick to condemn the shootings at Fort Hood.

Mr. NIHAD AWAD (President, Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington): This is a sad day in our nation's history, and we reiterate the American Muslim community's condemnation of this cowardly attack.

KAHN: In Washington, D.C., Nihad Awad, who heads the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said everyone's thoughts are with the victims and their families. And he added while little is known about the shooter's motives, there is no defense for such actions.

Mr. AWAD: No political or religious ideology could ever justify or excuse such wanton and indiscriminate violence.

Unidentified Man: (Singing in foreign language)

KAHN: At the Southern California Islamic Center, a small crowd remained late into the evening. Worshipper Mohammed Shamim Hussein said many stayed to pray for the victims in Texas.

Mr. MOHAMMED SHAMIM HUSSEIN: This really is hard. I can think about their parents, their brothers and sisters. It really is shocking news for everyone.

KAHN: Shamim said when he found out that the shooter was Muslim, he couldn't help but worry about a backlash.

Groups from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee to the Muslim Public Affairs Council issued statements urging calm and cautioning members in their communities to take precautions.

Several organizations said they had already received hate emails, and a death threat had been sent to a mosque in Irving, Texas outside Dallas. In Los Angeles, law enforcement was sent to area mosques, according to Sheriff Lee Baca.

Sheriff LEE BACA (Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department): The sheriff's department currently is deploying deputy sheriffs and radio cars to all the Islamic centers and Muslim mosques within our jurisdiction. And that, I think, is just a preventative measure.

KAHN: L.A.'s interim police chief said local cops are on the lookout for any attacks against Muslims. The executive director of the local Muslim Public Affairs Council, Salam Al-Marayati, said he's thankful for the support, but police alone can't protect his community.

Mr. SALAM AL-MARAYATI (Executive Director, Muslim Public Affairs Council): We need to remain vigilant, but at the same time, we don't want people to change their lives completely. We want them to go on with their regular lives, but at the same time, we live in very extraordinary times.

KAHN: He says Friday prayers will be held as usual, with special thoughts going out to the victims at Fort Hood.

Carrie Kahn, NPR News.

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