Gunman shot dead six worshippers at Quebec mosque last week. Non-Muslims act as ‘human shields’ in Toronto, Edmonton and St John’s. Hundreds across Canada gathered around mosques to form protective barriers – described by organizers as “human shields” and “rings of peace” – as Muslims in the country marked their first Friday prayers since a gunman shot dead six men who were praying at a Quebec mosque.
“No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray,” Yael Splansky, the rabbi behind the effort to set up “rings of peace” around Toronto mosques told the Canadian Press. “It’s a terrifying scene. Imagine people of faith going to pray in peace, to pray for peace, and to be at risk. Houses of worship are sacred and must be protected.” Hundreds of people in Toronto – many of them belonging to local synagogues, churches and temples – stood shoulder-to-shoulder outside seven of the city’s mosques on Friday during midday prayers. In Ottawa and Edmonton, similar “rings of peace” were set up around local mosques.
The idea was inspired by a group of Muslims in Oslo, said Splansky. In 2015, as Jewish communities across Europe were reeling from antisemitic attacks in France and Denmark, Muslims organised to stand guard around the synagogue in Oslo while those inside offered Sabbath prayers. In Newfoundland on Friday, hundreds gathered to form a “human shield” to protect Muslims at the province’s only mosque in St John’s. Speaking to the crowd, Syed Pirzada of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador said the Muslim community had been overwhelmed by the outpouring of support they had received in recent days.
“Although this tragedy has taken irreparable toll on Muslims across the country, the kindness and generosity of fellow Canadians has been a great source of comfort,” said Pirzada. “Canada has spoken: no to hate, no to bigotry, no to religious violence, no to intolerance.” Thousands across Canada have come together to condemn the actions of a gunman who walked into a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday and opened fire, killing six people and injuring another 19. Two remain in critical condition. The attack has been described by the country’s prime minister as an act of terror.
Funerals were held this week in Quebec City and Montreal for the six victims. Thousands turned up to pay tribute to the men – remembering them as devoted fathers who dreamed of giving their children a bright future in Canada.
“It is with a heavy heart that we come together this afternoon to grieve the loss of these innocent lives,” Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, said at the funeral in Montreal on Thursday. “But as a community, as a country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before – that is who we are.”
Source: The Guardian