Muslim communities across the country are standing in solidarity with Christchurch, New Zealand following the terrorist attacks at two mosques that killed 49 people and injured several more on Friday.
Friday Prayer, or Jumu’ah, is a weekly ritual observed in the Muslim faith. But this week, the usually happy occasion was marred with a different sentiment.
In his sermon, Imam Ahmed condemned the Christchurch shootings, saying “extremism has no religion”.
Ahmed said society shouldn’t focus on who the target was, but rather who the victims were and how the public can offer help.
“There is an element of Islamophobia, but at times like this we must remember that there is a bigger element of those who want to establish peace,” he said.
Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, was speaking in Saskatoon as part of a panel discussion on hate speech when he heard the news of the attacks.
“We’re shocked at the horrific nature of this incident and that it occurred,” Gardee said. “These families are now devastated and the community is now shattered.”
“At the same time we’re not shocked, because we’ve seen this rise in hatred and political rhetoric targeting immigrants and targeting visible minorities.”
Gardee is encouraging Muslim communities across the country to take review their safety measures. He also suggested mosques contact their local law enforcement if they feel threatened in any way.
Regina Police Service spoke with representatives from the Muslim community. Officers said they are taking steps to ensure safety, but they did not increase patrol cars in Muslim neighbourhoods.
Inside the Ahmadiyya mosque, volunteer security guards walked the halls during Friday’s prayer, but the congregation said they won’t let fear stop them from entering their place of worship.
“We hold our mosques very dear to us,” Imam Ahmed said. “We will fill them regardless of what any extremists or any person does or says.”
Imam Ahmed said it’s important to remember every community, no matter race or religion, can find something in common. Other Ahmadiyya community members echoed Imam Ahmed’s sentiment, saying education of other faiths is the key to preventing more attacks.
“Ignorance is the reason that breeds hatred; ignorance is the reason that breeds violence and terrorism,” Habib Rehman said. “We need to tackle ignorance.”