'Standing on guard:' Hundreds circle Halifax mosque to support Muslim faith in wake of Quebec attack
The Ummah Masjid in Halifax had people of all ages and backgrounds link hands around the building in a peace ring on Friday.
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In a show of support, members of the Halifax community came together Friday afternoon to link hands around the Ummah Masjid.
Following noon prayers on Friday, about 300 people both young and old stood outside and held hands around the mosque.
Norm Horofker, the minister at the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, organized the event following the Jan. 29 terrorist attack on a mosque in Quebec City where six men were killed.
“In a way we’re standing on guard,” Horofker said about encircling the mosque. “We’re making a statement that what’s going on within this building is sacred and is something that we want to protect and preserve, and allow people the peace to pray without threat.”
For Ashraf Al Zaman, the executive chair of the Ummah Masjid, the support of the Halifax community in the days following the attack has been “amazing.”
“Many times we do not realize how much we care about each other, because many times our perception deceives us in the sense that we look at people, we look at their religion, their colour, their ethnicity,” Al Zaman said.
“Only in this kind of situation where something inhumane happens, at that time we start to realize more about our … human side.”
Lt. Col. John O’Donnell, a chaplain with the Canadian Armed Forces, said it was important for him to attend the event to show solidarity. He added that it was great to see the diversity of people who participated.
“I think the images will speak volumes, and it’s nice to see the Muslim community in Halifax growing and being supported,” he said.
“This is very much needed,” Al Zaman said about the support the Muslim community has received.
“When we see the whole community coming together … it brings about the safety and security that we had before this incident happened.”
The human circle coincided with the United Nations’ World Interfaith Harmony week, which seeks to promote peace and harmony amongst all religions.
Similar “peace rings” were also formed around mosques in the Toronto area on Friday.
Public event this Saturday with politicians, police
The Ummah Masjid will be hosting a public event this Saturday at 5:45 p.m. at 2510 St. Matthias St.
Jean-Michel Blais, the chief of the Halifax Regional Police, Geoff Regan, speaker of the House of Commons and Member of Parliament Andy Fillmore will be in attendance.
According to the mosque’s website, Blais, Regan and Fillmore will share their thoughts on the Quebec City mosque shooting, and will answer audience questions regarding the safety of the Muslim community in Halifax.
The event will be followed by a potluck.