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OPINION: It’s time to stand together against intolerance and division

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Aruba Mahmud

On the evening of Sunday, Jan. 29, Muslim men, women and children were at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, completing the fifth and last prayer of the day.

Aruba Mahmud
Aruba Mahmud

Tragically, these innocent civilians were targeted by an armed gunman in an attack that left six of the men dead and many more injured, simply for practicing their faith.

Muslims all over the world, including here in Sarnia, perform five prayers a day, and many, like their brothers and sisters in Quebec, do so at their local mosque, a sanctuary and place of worship.

The fact that a mosque was targeted in such a brutal act of violence and hatred is deeply shocking and troubling, particularly in Canada, a beautiful and welcoming country which has long been celebrated for its diversity and commitment to religious tolerance and respect.

We here in the Sarnia Muslim Association (SMA), along with Muslims all over Canada, are mourning for our brothers and sisters in Quebec City, and are well aware that such an attack could have taken place anywhere in Canada.

For years, Islamophobia has been on the rise, with mosques and other houses of worship being vandalized and targeted, including the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City where the shootings took place. In 2016, it was reported by Statistics Canada that hate crimes against Muslims more than doubled over the past three years. Sadly, as this recent attack has shown, at times, intolerance can lead to extreme, even deadly acts of violence.

We hope that as tragic as this event is, it can serve as a catalyst to help us to better know and understand one another, and encourage us to work together to fight hatred and intolerance with peace and respect.

We have already seen this locally, with countless messages on social media, a personal call from MP Marilyn Gladu, interfaith messages from a number of local churches and religious organizations and even beautiful flower arrangements left at the SMA Mosque on London Line.

We have been overwhelmed with the kindness, support and solidarity shown to us by our fellow Sarnians and would like to extend a very, very sincere thank you. Your love, support and generosity mean a great deal in this difficult time.

We would like to invite everyone to an interfaith solidarity event and open house on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at the SMA Mosque, 1609 London Line. More details can be found on the Sarnia Muslim Association Facebook page.

This gathering will allow us to remember those who were lost in this tragic attack and to stand in solidarity against division and hatred. It is also an opportunity to get to know one another better and there will be refreshments and time for fellowship as well.

We welcome you, our neighbours to join us, for as Prophet Muhammed (Peace be Upon Him) taught us, “The best qualities of Islam are feeding fellow human beings and greeting with ‘peace.'”

Aruba Mahmud is the outreach and education secretary of the Sarnia Muslim Association



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