Flags at Lethbridge City Hall were flying at half-mast Monday while people left flowers and notes of support at the front doors at the local Muslim centre.
“That is an amazing gesture, I would like to say, ‘thank you’ to the people who are looking out for us,” Chaplain and Imam Aslan Piparawala said.
Piparawala included a special prayer for the lives impacted by the deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City during Monday’s service.
“My heart and condolences go out to the people who are affected by such an atrocious attack,” he said. “It isn’t easy when people are targeted this way and when such crimes like these happen against such a peaceful people.”
University of Lethbridge Professor Dr. Abdie Kazemipur specializes in Middle Eastern affairs. He doesn’t expect the shooting will lead to similar attacks.
“Quebec has been very different… Over the past 20 years there have been many episodes…We had something happen after the 1995 Quebec referendum, we had something happen in 2007-8 which was called ‘the crisis of reasonable accommodation’ and just recently, the Quebec Charter of Values in 2013.
“So there have been a lot of episodes of which some sort of confrontation and hostile environment could have been detected, with immigrants in general, or more particularly, Muslim immigrants,” he said.
“It is not something we should expect to see in the rest of Canada, including Lethbridge. Lethbridge has been very welcoming to its new immigrants…The whole social environment is very different.”
He anticipates this tragedy will spur an important discussion.
“It’s an opportunity to come together to clarify their own moral positions to make it clear to not only themselves, but to others, where they stand in regards to all of (these) sad and tragic events.”
Piparawala wants people to use the tragedy as a springboard to embrace diversity.
“I hope the people of this country band together…I hope that we can learn from such horrible events like these. I hope we will never have to come across and face such a crime like this ever again.”
A vigil is being held at Lethbridge City Hall Monday night at 5:30 p.m. MT.