Religious leaders from multiple faiths are showing their solidarity against all religious hate crimes.
This comes in response to recent international attacks at places of worship, as well as the ongoing threat of violence.
After another difficult week, religious leaders in Durham gathered to pray and release a joint statement condemning the terrorist attacks in Siri Lanka and San Diego.
This past weekend during a Passover celebration, a shooting at a San Diego Synagogue killed one person and injured three others.
And on Easter, more than 250 people were killed in a series of coordinated attacks in Sri Lanka.
“Just sadness — deep, deep, sadness,” said Rev. Jennifer Broomhead of Trinity United Church Bowmanville.
Imam Gomaa Gomaa of the Al-Rayan Islamic Centre in Courtice says these attacks on religious centres are happening too frequently.
It was just a month and a half ago that he woke up to the news of two mosque shootings in New Zealand, which claimed the lives of 50.
“It’s time for all of us to come together, and we should be united and we should spread love, because I believe that love is going to defeat the hate,” said Imam Gomaa.
After the shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand, the Courtice community expressed their support by dropping off flowers and cards at the Courtice mosque. On Tuesday, it was the place where a number of religious leaders met to show their solidarity against all religious hate crimes.
“Once is too often. Hate tears down but love lifts up. We are indeed one voice in condemning this kind of behaviour,” said Rev. Broomhead.
“We are all God’s children, doing our best to show love.”
WATCH: New Zealand and France to host summit to tackle online extremism (April 24)
Dr. Barbara Perry, a professor of hate, bias and extremism at Ontario Tech University, says there was a 47 per cent increase in hate crimes in Canada from 2016 to 2017. She says religious leaders taking a stand together can only help.
“I think it sends a really important message to the vast majority of us that there is space for common cause, there is need for common cause right now and also sends an important message to the communities that have been targeted, that there are really more that stand with them then stand against them,” said Dr. Perry.
Imam Gomaa adds you can’t let fear win and places of worship are where you’ll find the strength that you need.