Winnipeg Muslim community shocked, speechless about shooting in New Zealand
Muslims heading to Winnipeg’s Central Mosque for morning prayers Friday expressed shock and sorrow over a horrific tragedy unfolding on the other side of the world.
WATCH: Global’s Amber McGuckin shares reaction from around Winnipeg
Faithful told Global News they didn’t know what to say about the shooting in Christchurch, NZ Friday that saw at least 49 people dead and dozens injured at two mosques after a shooter walked in and opened fire.
“I don’t know what to say … We’re praying for the people who lost their lives,” said one man.
Global reporter Malika Karim told 680 CJOB Friday morning that people heading out after prayers left upset and angry.
“There were lots of tears,” she said. “A lot of sentiment of Islam being a peaceful religion.
“All they can do right now is pray.”
Another worshipper told Global News he watched the video the mosque shooter posted on social media, telling Karim “it looked like it was out of a video game, like it wasn’t real.”
WATCH: Winnipeg faithful shocked, saddened by Christchurch mosque shooting
Karim said security didn’t appear to be an issue at the mosque this morning.
LISTEN: Shahina Siddiqui speaks about her reaction Friday
Shahina Siddiqui, executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association in Winnipeg called the situation “surreal.”
“There’s always a concern, if something overseas, we see a rise on social media of hate … it’s always a constant. But what can you do, you cannot stop living,” she said.
The hardest part is talking to her children and grandchildren about it, Siddiqui said.
“You want them to hear it from you but you also want them to feel secure,” she said.
After the mosque shooting in Quebec “our children were very frightened to go to the mosque, that’s our place of worship, that’s our sanctuary.”
Leaders in the province’s Muslim community sent out a joint statement Friday morning decrying the senseless attack.
“Whether it is a mosque in Quebec or New Zealand, a church in Charleston or a synagogue in Pittsburgh, terrorism and violence are claiming spaces that are intended for comfort and healing, spiritual growth and community building,” said the Manitoba Islamic Association’s Tasneem Vali.
“We just can’t make sense of it. Our prayers are with all the victims, and with the country of New Zealand.”
A vigil will be held Friday night at 8 p.m. at the grand mosque in Winnipeg at 2445 Waverley Street.
One man in his late 20s was charged with murder in connection with the incidents, the commissioner of the New Zealand Police said.
Three people were arrested — one of them born in Australia — after an active shooter situation led to “significant” fatalities at the mosques during Friday prayers. Police said a fourth person was arrested Friday but that was “not related to these events.”
Winnipeg police issued a statement Friday morning saying they would be taking steps to support the Islamic community in the city.
“Members of the Winnipeg Police Service wish to extend our condolences to family and friends of the victims of the mass shootings in New Zealand. Our office has received a number of enquiries regarding our response. The Service has been in contact with members of the Manitoba Islamic Association and will support the community with an increased presence and visibility in the areas surrounding local mosques.”
Canadian politicians offered their condolences and condemnation.
-With files from Malika Karim and Sam Thompson
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