Islamophobia on rise in Canada, Muslim leader tells vigil in Victoria

Thousands at Victoria vigil after mosque shooting

VICTORIA — A vigil to remember those killed and injured during a shooting rampage at a mosque in Quebec City heard from a religious leader Tuesday about a rise in Islamophobia and the struggle to connect rather than divide Canadians.

Ismail Mohamed-Nur, the imam at Victoria’s Al-Iman mosque, said he is heartened by the outpouring of support from Canadians since Sunday’s attack that left six dead and 19 wounded.

“We gather here today to show our defiance of hate,” said Mohamed-Nur. “Love truly conquers hate.”

Victoria Police estimated 3,000 people gathered outside of Victoria City Hall, halting traffic on a downtown street and crowding around the statue of Sir. John A. Macdonald, Canada’s first prime minister, that stands at the building’s entrance.

He called for love and togetherness during a brief address to the crowd.

“We live in a time where people try so very hard to divide us, but it only brings us closer and makes us stronger,” Mohamed-Nur said. “This is a battle that is ongoing.”

Similar vigils have been held across Canada with thousands calling for unity and more understanding following the shootings.

Victoria resident Hana Al-Qadafi was in tears at the Victoria gathering, saying that seeing the crowd showed her people care about her community. She said strangers have approached her since Sunday offering their condolences.

“We are different, I know,” she said. “But we love each other. Yes, I am Muslim and I am Canadian and I love my home, Canada.”

Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps drew cheers when she said Muslims are welcome in her city.

“We love you,” she said. “We support you. You are welcome here.”

Mohamed-Nur said Islamophobia must be confronted through open communication and education. He said Canadians should not shy away from the issue.

“Islamophobia is rising in the West and particularly here in Canada,” he said. “That is a source of worry and fear for the Muslim community.”

In Vancouver, lawyers who launched a legal assistance hotline last year for victims of Islamophobia said citizens and politicians must talk more openly about racism and xenophobia in their midst.

Hasan Alam, a community liaison for the Islamophobia Legal Assistance Hotline, said the shootings are a “harsh reminder” of the fact that Islamophobia exists in Canada.

Alexandre Bissonnette of Quebec City faces six counts of murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with Sunday’s shootings.



Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Summerland Steam focus on their game

The Steam have lost their two home games this season, but have won their two road games

Cram the RCMP cruiser for the Penticton food bank

RCMP cruisers will be at the Real Canadian Superstore parking lot

Open burning permitted again in Kamloops Fire Centre

Low fire rating prompts decision throughout Kamloops Fire Centre

Spirit North funding annoucement now expected any day

Indigenous Services Canada annouces new timeline for funding annoucement

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Who’s running in Penticton’s election?

Candidates for the Penticton municipal and school board election

Around the BCHL: Nanaimo Clippers acquire defenceman from Langley Rivermen

Around the BCHL is a look at goings on around the BCHL and the junior A world.

B.C. co-op develops tech to help prevent ODs, especially for alone users

Brave Technology has been awarded $200,000 in the Ohio Opioid Technology Challenge

Potential replacements for Phoenix pay system to start testing soon: Brison

Testing of prototypes to replace troubled federal pay system will begin within weeks

Recent jump in U.S. butter imports? All smooth, says Canadian dairy farmers

U.S. farmers recently enjoyed extra access to the Canadian market

Nanaimo’s Tilray Inc. briefly the world’s largest cannabis company

The company, only listed in the US, nearly reached $300 in afternoon trading on Wednesday

Woman who helped kidnap Elizabeth Smart released from prison

Smart was 14 years old when she was snatched from her Salt Lake City home in 2002 by street preacher Brian David Mitchell

New York books editor out after backlash over Jian Ghomeshi essay

Ian Buruma, who was appointed as editor of the New York Review of Books in late 2017, no longer works for the publication

Most Read