A few tears trickle down Nadia Salman’s cheeks as she thinks about the children who lost their fathers in the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque on Sunday.
“They are not going to come back. They (the families) will be suffering and why? What are they going to do without their fathers and brothers?” said Salman, who’s troubled that the shooting occurred in a mosque. “Its’ the most safest place and then this happened.”
Salman, a Muslim woman who’s lived in Victoria for the last five years, was among thousands of people who gathered in front of City Hall Tuesday morning to show support for the local Muslim community following the Quebec shooting that claimed the lives of six people and left 19 others injured.
The victims were at the Centre Cultural Islamique Quebec for evening prayers when a gunman burst into the building and opened fire, shooting victims in the back as they prayed. Witnesses described chaos as worshippers scrambled to find friends and loved ones among the bloodshed.
The shooting has rattled citizens across the country, including Victoria Masjid Al-Iman mosque Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur, who also attended the gathering in front of City Hall and spoke to the large crowd waving flags and home made signs.
Nur never imagined such an attack would ever happen in Canada.
“You hear about these kinds of things happening elsewhere…so it was received with great sadness,” said Nur, noting the support from the community gives him “great hope” as safety fears grow due to the rise of Islamophobia.
“It reassures our community that we are part of the larger community in Victoria and Canada and it takes away some of that worry that we have.”
While standing with a handful of other Muslim women in the crowd, Salman was approached by random people, apologizing for what happened in Quebec. The large show of support meant a lot for Salman, who’s proud to say she’s never experienced discrimination in the city and has always been treated with respect.
Holding a sign that said “Today I am Muslim, Fight Hatred,” Sal Johal wanted to let people in the community know that he feels their pain and grief caused by the senseless shooting.
“We don’t accept things like this in Canada and we don’t accept them anywhere in the world. It shouldn’t be happening,” said Johal, who felt terrible when he heard about the deadly attack.
“How can somebody do that in a place of worship or anywhere for that matter?”
Vigils for the victims have been held this week in communities across the country.
Alexandre Bissonnette, the sole suspect in Sunday’s terrorist attack, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. Questions still remain about the 27-year-old’s motivation behind the massacre.