Montreal-area mosques host open house day

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Montreal mosques host open house
WATCH: Mosques in Montreal held open door events in an attempt to connect communities following the fatal shooting at a Quebec City mosque. Navneet Pall reports – Feb 12, 2017

In the wake of the recent attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, mosques in the greater Montreal area and across the province, opened their doors to the general public on Sunday.

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan was in Quebec City where he visited the site of last month’s deadly shooting.

Defence Minister Harjit S. Sajjan visits Quebec City mosque, where six worshipers were killed last month. Sunday, Feb. 12, 2016. Courtesy TVA

He met with members and leaders of the mosque and stressed the importance of giving a “protective bubble for children.”

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Sajjan also wanted them to know that for every one negative comment they may hear, there are 10 people willing to defend them.

In Montreal, the community outreach initiative was coordinated by the Muslim Council of Montreal.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec City mosque shooting and the aftermath

Its president, Salam Elmenyawi, said the deadly shooting where six men perished on Jan. 29 is a wake-up call for the province and Canada.

READ MORE: Will Quebec stop fighting over religious symbols?

Elmenyawi, said he would like the open door event to be an occasion for members of different cultural and religious groups to gather and discuss social harmony.

“I would like society to work together to bring an end to hate, division and racism,” he said.

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Organizers also hope the day will serve to “debunk a few myths about Islam.”

Several exhibits were planned and volunteers were available to answer questions for those who dropped by.

READ MORE: Montreal man charged with mischief after vandalism at Pointe-Saint-Charles mosque

Among participating mosques was the Khadijah Islamic Centre in Pointe-Saint-Charles which was vandalized last Thursday, the same day a funeral was held in Montreal for three victims of the Quebec City shooting.

Notre-Dame-de-Grâce resident François Michaud said he came to the Pointe-Saint-Charles mosque in the hopes of giving a better impression of French Canadian communities.

“We don’t want the man from Quebec City who killed the people in the mosque to be thought of as who we are,” Michaud said.

The open door may have served as an opportunity for non-Muslims to see what a mosque is like, but it was also a chance for members of the Muslim community, such as Fazle Ashek Ahmad, the treasurer of the Khadijah Mosque, to better know their neighbours.

“I have been here in Canada for 27 years, I never visited a Synagogue or Church,” Ahmad said. “There is a communication gap.”

It’s a sentiment shared by professor Mohammad Abdul Rabb, who said the open door event is “just a drop in the bucket.”

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Rabb believes much more needs to be done in order to truly build long lasting inter-faith dialogue.

“People of goodwill must come forward to do this,” Rabb said. “We have no choice we must live in peace and harmony.”

Co-founder of the Canadian Muslim Alliance, Musabbir Alam, an organization dedicated to second generation Canadian Muslim scholars, is optimistic that dialogue will continue once the memory of the shooting in Quebec City begins to fade.

“It makes me feel really happy to see the turn out and the response from the community because this is about the community,” Alam said. “At the end of the day, we are all here together as Canadians, as Quebecois, as Montrealers.”

For skeptics of Sunday’s community outreach, Alam reminds them that:

“We share common value as Canadians,” Alam said. “As a Muslim, I share this common value with my Jewish cousins and Christian cousins.”

— With files from the Canadian Press

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