Burlington residents came together by the hundreds on Monday night (Jan. 30) to hold a vigil to show their support for the Muslim community after the tragic shooting at Quebec’s Grand Mosque the previous night.
The vigil was held outside of City Hall where Burlington residents brought flowers and lit candles to mourn the victims of the terror attack.
Local residents say they feel bad for what Muslims all over the world are going through and that they are here for their Muslim neighbours in these tough times.
“What happened in Quebec was an absolute tragedy not only for Muslims but for all Canadians,” said Burlington resident April Wong. “These people are our neighbours, friends, and co-workers and they need our support and help now more than ever.”
Burlington residents say the Islamophobia going on in North America is unethical and that it should be stopped.
“There is absolutely no need for Islamophobia in this world let alone in this community,” said Burlington resident Charlie Johnstone. Johnstone adds that there should be cultural and religious awareness programs for people to take part in whenever they don’t know a lot about a particular culture or religion.
The Halton Mosque community was surprised to see the love and support they received from not only the Burlington community but also from people who came from neighboring cities such as Milton and Oakville.
Imam Abdullah Hatia of the Halton Mosque remarked sorrowfully on the attack in Quebec, but stressed the importance of the love and support from the Burlington community.
“The tragedy of this situation is huge, the grief is huge, the sadness that everyone feels is huge but there is so much we can take from this situation and turn them into positives,” said Hatia. “One of the positives is the love and support we received from the community after this incident occurred. I think this because of this incident, it really brought two communities closer together.”
Hatia says he has seen some incidents of Islamophobia but most were not dangerous.
“There has been an incident of Islamophobia here at the Mosque where, after a prayer, a drunk man came into the Mosque and started vandalizing our place of worship,” said Hatia. “But thankfully there was no one there at the time of the incident so no one got hurt.”
Local politicians weighed in with their opinions on the senseless act of terrorism in Quebec.
“I was especially shocked that this came so soon after the immigration ban announced in the United States, targeting Muslims,” said Councillor Marianne Meed Ward. “Not terrorists, mind you, but anyone of a Muslim faith from a Muslim country.”
Ward added that she is disgusted by hate crimes of any nature and that she will help reduce the Islamophobia problem in Burlington by teaming up with her colleagues and the Halton Mosque.