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Houston's Muslim community speaks out over murders of New Mexico Muslim men

"We would be foolish to deny that there isn’t tension between the community. There are, but we have to address that,” said Raazia Nathani.

HOUSTON — The Muslim community in Houston is speaking out about the murders of four Muslim men in New Mexico.

Albuquerque police say Muhammad Syed, 51, has been charged with the recent murder of two men. They say a total of four Muslim men have been killed in the area over the course of months.

Police say Syed is the primary suspect in those cases, but he has not been charged.

RELATED: Suspect in 4 Muslim men's killings in New Mexico detained

The murders have Houston’s Muslim community calling for action.  

"We would be foolish to deny that there isn’t tension between the community. There are, but we have to address that,” said Raazia Nathani.

Nathani joined members of CAIR, Houston’s Council of American-Islamic Relations, for a roundtable discussion Wednesday. The group spoke about what they believe is driving the killings.

"We're very troubled by the suspected motive in this that he was a Sunni Muslim targeting Shia Muslims," said CAIR Houston Director, William White.

Syed, who is Muslim, has denied the accusations. Albuquerque Police have not confirmed a motive.

White, however, said clashes between the two Islamic faith groups have caused division in the middle east for decades. 

"The split between the two Muslim groups is a disagreement of leadership from almost 1300 years ago," he explained. "That split in leadership has had a political toll to some extent." 

Nathani says it’s something they never expected would cross over into the U.S. 

RELATED: Houston Mayor Turner beefs up security around mosques as officials look for car connected to 4 Muslim killings in New Mexico

"We have the opportunity here in America in 2020, we can have an environment where Shia’s and Sunni’s are praying together side by side," she said.

The panel was a group of Shia and Sunni Muslims coming together.  

Nathani says their hope is to foster education and restore a sense of unity.

“I think we need to take this tragedy and learn from what intolerance and speech can lead to and make some solid real changes," she said. 

CAIR Houston says it's planning additional roundtables discussing the topic in the coming weeks.

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