‘We cannot just stop going to the mosque’: Toronto Muslim community resilient after attack in New Zealand

New Zealand shooting: Toronto police heighten security at mosques in wake of mass shooting

Toronto’s Muslim community, along with local and provincial politicians, have condemned the attacks at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that killed at least 49 people and wounded dozens more on Friday.

Members of the Masjid mosque in downtown Toronto expressed their sadness and offered support for the victims just prior to their early-morning prayer.

“I’m very sure it’s touching every Muslim,” Abdinasir Mohammed said.

Tahreem Aziz says Friday prayer is an obligation practised by Muslims and the attack seemed to be religiously motivated.

READ MORE: Security intensifies across GTA following deadly New Zealand attacks

“Friday prayer is one of the prayers that people cannot pray at home, they usually have to go to the mosque. So they cannot avoid going to the mosque,” Aziz said.

“I cannot stop going to the mosque if these things are happening, whatever has to happen will happen. We cannot just stop going to the mosque.”

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Mohammed said he feels safe attending prayer in Toronto and will continue to do so without reservation.

“I think it depends where you are in the world, to the point that I am living in Canada, especially Toronto where we are so diverse and so multicultural,” Mohammed said.

READ MORE: Christchurch shooting: 50 killed at 2 mosques, 1 man charged with murder

“I don’t have any doubts of my safety. Here in the city, we are living in a community and we respect one another’s culture.”

The Islamic Society of Toronto issued a statement on Friday, sending their thoughts and prayers to the victims.

“Our thoughts and Duas are with the victims of the horrific shootings in New Zealand. We pray thay [sic] Allah Ta’ala grants them the choicest of paradises and grants their loved ones strength and patience,” the statement read.

“We also pray that Allah Ta’ala eradicates hatred and terror from this world and allows peace to prevail.”

Mayor John Tory also issued a statement on Twitter calling the incident “hate-fuelled violence.”

READ MORE: World leaders condemn New Zealand mosque attack

“I am deeply saddened by the terror attack in New Zealand & stand with our Muslim community to condemn this hate-fuelled violence,” Tory said.

“On behalf of all Torontonians, we send condolences to the families & friends of those killed in Christchurch & those injured in this heinous attack.”

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VIDEO: Witness describes seeing dead, injured people inside and outside mosque

Christchurch Shooting: Witness describes seeing dead, injured people inside and outside mosque
Christchurch Shooting: Witness describes seeing dead, injured people inside and outside mosque

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also condemned the attack.

“I strongly condemn the horrifying attack on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand,” Ford wrote on Twitter.

“I join people across Ontario and Canada and stand with all legislators at Queen’s Park in condemning this hatred and violence towards our Muslim brothers and sisters.”

READ MORE: Montreal, Quebec City police on high alert following New Zealand mosque shootings

Police Chief Mark Saunders said on Friday that officers are actively visiting mosques and other places of worship to ensure the Muslim community feels safe.

“On behalf of Toronto police, I want to send our condolences to those impacted by the heinous attacks in New Zealand,” Saunders said.

“Please be assured that police officers will be patrolling your communities today, visiting mosques and other places of worship, to ensure everyone’s safety.”

A vigil has been planned for 6 p.m. on Friday at Nathan Phillips Square in downtown Toronto to remember the lives lost in the attack.

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— With a file from Kamil Karamali