Many in the city’s Muslim community come from Pakistan and Afghanistan, while others are from countries including India, Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Sri Lanka. During the Trump administration, when concerns grew over bigotry directed against Muslims, officials passed a bill affirming Albuquerque’s status as an “immigrant friendly” city. It restricted federal immigration agents from entering city-operated facilities and city employees from collecting immigration status information.
At least 300 Afghan refugees have arrived in Albuquerque over the past year, bolstering a growing community reflected today by at least eight different places of worship for Muslims. Albuquerque strengthened outreach efforts through translators speaking Arabic, Dari, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto — languages that officials have prioritized in recent days when sharing information about the killings.
Although Muslims in the United States faced violence and discrimination after Sept. 11 and during Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign, the apparent serial nature of the attacks in Albuquerque — and the stubborn mystery of who is responsible — is uniquely disconcerting, said Sumayyah Waheed, senior policy counsel at Muslim Advocates, a civil rights group.
“I can’t think of any incident like this,” she said.
Ms. Waheed said it was concerning that the police in Albuquerque had apparently made a possible connection between the attacks only after three Muslim men were killed.
Statistics from the Albuquerque Police Department show that the racial breakdown of its employees, including officers and civilians, is roughly in line with that of the city, where about half of the residents are Latino and 38 percent are white. As of June 2021, there were 17 Asian employees out of nearly 1,480 people in the department. It is unclear how many officers are Muslim, and a spokesman said the department did not collect data on religious affiliation.
Although Naeem Hussain’s death on Friday heightened the concerns of his community, Ehsan Shahalami, his brother-in-law, said the killing came as a shock.