A year ago, when six Muslim men were shot and killed inside a Quebec City mosque, Masjid-Al Iman in Victoria received such an outpouring of support they hardly knew what to do with it all.
“For two or three weeks every single day, we didn’t have a space to put the flowers, they were piling up in front of the mosque,” says Muhammad Ghouri, social director for the board of Masjid-Al Iman. Along with notes and cards, he says, people were physically standing in front of the mosque guarding it. “It was just overwhelming.”
On the anniversary of the shooting, Masjid-Al Iman (2218 Quadra St.) invites residents to commemorate the tragedy with an open house Jan. 28 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and to say thank you for the support during such a difficult time.
With a rising tide of intolerance facing the Muslim community, Ghouri says this event is about education and dialogue. “It’s not a gathering for our own community, it’s more about raising awareness for the greater community of Victoria, people who don’t usually come to the mosque.”
Islamophobia is real, he says, though the issue isn’t as prevalent in Victoria as other parts of the country.
“Obviously it’s not as bad as south of the border, but definitely there are incidents not only in Quebec, but other parts of Canada,” he says. “And, we will be talking about that.”
Ismail Nur, Imam of the mosque, will open conversations about what happened in Quebec, how to navigate during periods of social panic, Islamophobia and how to create welcoming and inclusive societies.
The gathering will be a space to express and explore feelings of sorrow, confusion and hopelessness, Ghouri says, but also love and hope.
“If there is good and you spread it, it will multiply.”