A lone Peterborough Police Service vehicle was parked outside the city’s only mosque on Friday, hours after dozens were killed in mosque attacks in Christchurch, New Zealand.
More than 150 members of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association gathered for their weekly Friday Jumu’ah 12 hours after gunmen killed 49 people at two mosques in Christchurch.
No one at the Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque was willing to speak with Global Peterborough about the New Zealand attacks.
In his message to those praying, the Imam said the attacks were fueled by “hatred and poisoned minds.”
“No human being in his or her sane mind would do such a thing,” he said.
The Peterborough mosque was rebuilt after fire was set to the building in November 2015. The case of arson involving a Molotov cocktail tossed after evening prayer has never been solved.
In a joint statement, Peterborough mayor Diane Therrien and Peterborough-Kawartha Liberal MP Maryam Monsef said there are no words to capture the “sadness and pain” caused by the “heinous” attacks in Christchurch.
“This deliberate act of terrorism and Islamophobia was intended to cause fear and division,” they said in a statement posted on Twitter. “We will not allow that to happen.”
“We all have a responsibility to stand up and be vigilant against hate, Islamophobia and divisive fear-mongering,” they added.
Bishop Daniel Miehm of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peterborough says he is sending prayers to the victims and also his sympathy and support to the KMRA.
“I join with Pope Francis and the Catholic Bishops in New Zealand to pray for the healing of the injured, the consolation of those who grieve the loss of their loved ones, and for all affected by this terrible tragedy,” he stated.
The New Canadians Centre and the Peterborough Immigration Partnership are also offering their support to the local Muslim community to collectively re-affirm its commitment to “building a broadly inclusive community.”
“In the face of the Christchurch attacks, we urge all communities to rally together in this troubling time to face fear with strength and unity,” the New Canadians Centre posted on Facebook.
The organizations said the 2015 mosque fire was met with an outpouring of care and comfort by supporters locally and globally and now is the time to come together again.
WATCH: New Zealand mosque shootings shatter sense of security, NCCM says
“In this context, we wish to affirm, as a broad cross-section of organizations and individuals in Peterborough, that our support for the local Muslim community remains strong and true: You are our family, friends and neighbours. You are respected, welcome, and valued in this community that is all of ours together.”
The Peterborough Police Service endorsed the PIP statement in a tweet.
Back at the mosque, the Imam asked that all demonstrate patience and responsibility including the media in their reporting.
More to come.
WATCH: Canada condemns ‘act of terrorism’ in Christchurch