For Montreal Muslims at the Islamic Centre of Quebec on Friday afternoon, prayer time was a rare moment of total abandon.
“Feeling like comfort, not afraid like last week and two years ago you know,” Ahmed Abu said. “Today we feel this comfort, very beautiful comfort.”
Abu refers to the dozens of Montrealers who surrounded the centre during prayer time in support of the community.
Since the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand where 50 Muslims were shot to death at two mosques during prayer time, they can’t help but feel uneasy. Not on this day, though.
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“I’m speechless to see the support from all the communities, it means a lot to us and this proves to everybody wants peace and unity and love,” said Nazlin Patel.
Montrealers from all backgrounds and faiths came together with signs in support of the Muslim community in what they called a circle of peace at the mosque in the city’s Saint-Laurent borough.
“I think there’s so many more of us who want peace, who choose peace over hate,” said Eva Pomeroy, who came from Notre-Dame-de-Grâce.
The event was organized by Montreal religious leaders whose communities have also been affected by heinous crimes.
“That’s one of the reasons we’re doing this, to show the people who are coming in to pray that they are not alone, they are not unsupported, that they can be in here praying and that we are out there, to the best of our abilities showing protection and support,” said Rabbi Lisa Gruschow of the Emanu-El-Beth Sholom Temple.
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While there was praise for New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and they way she handled the tragedy in her country, the Quebec government was criticized for not reassuring the local Muslim community.
“We haven’t heard a strong message from the Quebec CAQ government,” said Imam Musabbir Alam of the Canadian Muslim Alliance. “We have yet to hear from them.”
For now, the community will focus on healing and gratitude.