The Moncton Muslim Association president says the truck attack in London, Ont., brought on a lot of sadness and sorrow for the four victims and their family.
“It’s a hate crime,” says Abdal Khan. “It’s a terrorist attack on innocent people just because of their belief and how they look.”
The attack killed three generations of Muslims, leaving an injured young boy without his parents, grandmother and sister.
Khan says healing starts by thinking of and praying for the family.
He appreciates the “overwhelming response” from the entire community, other faith groups and the country as a whole.
But he says Islamophobia exists in New Brunswick.
“A few weeks ago during the month of Ramadan, I was actually at the mosque,” Khan says. “At night prayer, there was somebody outside the mosque yelling obscenities and racial slurs and he kept on going for almost 10 minutes.”
He tried to de-escalate the individual but eventually, police had to be called.
Khan says there’s been a rise in Islamophobia over the past five years.
“It’s just because of a rise in the right wing, and also what happened across the border — whoever was in power there and their impact on how people start thinking — how people with right-wing extremist ideologies got backing and kind of a support.”
Usman Ali, the Pakistani Canadian owner of AK Pak/Indian Grocery on Killam Drive in Moncton, says some new Canadians might be shell-shocked, but he wasn’t overly surprised to learn of the attack.
“It was not that much of a surprise to me because I have lived in Quebec City and because (an) incident of similar sorts happened in Quebec City also.”
He’s checking in on people who visit his store.
“Because of that store, I have been able to interact with more and more people. So that’s why I can know what they are feeling, what they are thinking.”
“I feel that there is a fear,” he says, “but that fear has been mitigated because of the good steps and good statements made by the prime minister and all the responsible government representatives.”
Khan suggests a national Islamophobia conference and an action plan as a way forward.
“Once we have that action plan, let’s follow up and do all those things that need to be done,” he says, “because I think the biggest challenge is to counter the Islamophobia.”
A solidarity memorial takes place at the mosque in Moncton at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
“Hopefully people will come and show their support,” Khan says.