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Community fills Saint John mosque to honour victims of New Zealand shootings, Halifax fire

A diverse group of various faiths packed a Saint John mosque Saturday afternoon. They honoured the victims of the shootings in two New Zealand mosques and seven children who died in a Halifax fire.
A diverse group of various faiths packed a Saint John mosque Saturday afternoon. They honoured the victims of the shootings in two New Zealand mosques and seven children who died in a Halifax fire. Andrew Cromwell/Global News

It was standing room only at a mosque in Saint John on Saturday.

The community held a vigil in honour of the 50 victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand on March 15.

Organizers told the crowd it can’t be described how deeply the event has impacted the Muslim community in Saint John, adding Islam is a religion of peace.

READ MORE: Why court photos of the alleged New Zealand mosque shooter’s face are blurred

The vigil brought a diverse mix of people together in one space.

‘It is a multi-faith gathering,” said Abdul Rahimi, president of the Muslim Association of New Brunswick.

“We have all our friends, neighbours around this area from churches. We have some people from our Jewish community…all the dignitaries from Saint John.”

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Mayor Don Darling spoke on behalf of the city of Saint John.

“It is so heartwarming to see the community come together across religions to send a very, very strong signal about what our community stands for,” Darling said.

WATCH: Thousands of New Zealanders join in Friday prayers

Thousands of New Zealanders join in Friday prayers
Thousands of New Zealanders join in Friday prayers

Members of law enforcement and first responders also had a presence.

Police officers were stationed at the entrance to the mosque, welcoming people as they entered while police vehicles were also stationed nearby keeping watch.

Inside, Saint John police chief Bruce Connell was one of the speakers.

“Together in unity because in unity there is strength,” Connell emphasized.

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Kennebecasis Regional Police chief Wayne Gallant added, “We must all stand together against violence and hatred of our fellow human beings.”

READ MORE: Father of seven children who were killed in Halifax house fire remains in coma

Messages of condolence and support were also offered to the victims of the February 19th fire in Spryfield, N.S. that claimed the lives of seven members of the Barho family, a family of Syrian refugees that came to Canada in September 2017.

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The father of the seven children, Ebraheim Barho, suffered severe burns and remains in a medically induced coma in a Halifax hospital.

The cause of the blaze has not been determined.