Vigil for New Zealand victims held
author: kristian ferguson | news editor
a candlelight vigil / jeremy davis
Community comes together to mourn
A vigil was held on Mar. 21 as an opportunity for the Muslim, and greater Regina community, to come together and mourn the attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Salmaan Moolla, one of the organizers, said that the attack in New Zealand came as a shock and could be felt even in the Regina Muslim community.
“The whole community was a little bit lost.”
“It hit everyone quite out of the blue and the way it happened was a way that could happen at any mosque, in any country, in any city.”
“Afterwards, we didn’t really know what to do, but we knew we needed to do something.”
“Back in November, our Jewish brothers and sisters had a similar attack at one of their synagogues in Pittsburgh. What they had was a candlelight vigil so we thought to do something similar.”
Moolla helped organize the various communities that were invited to the event.
“With our mosque, the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan Regina, they decided that we should get together all of our friends, families, and community members to put together this vigil.”
“They reached out to Catholic communities, Christian communities, all of the multicultural groups, the Sikh community, the Hindu community, our friends at the Regina Police Services, RCMP, Canadian Armed Forces, everyone they could think of.”
Moolla was happy with the turnout to the vigil.
“It took a few days planning, but we were really surprised with the amount of people who showed up.”
“We wanted to remember the 50 people who had their lives taken for just being who they are. For being Muslim, for being immigrants, they were vilified and made victims.”
Moolla was eager to talk about the amount of community outreach that came pouring in during the days immediately after the attack.
“The community response has been amazing, from the very first Friday.”
“There were police parked nearby to make sure people felt safe coming to the mosque. That was the first showing of the community coming together.”
It was reassuring to Moolla how the people of Regina reacted and showed their support for the Muslim community.
“Through the whole week, we had people coming to show support, talk with us, bring flowers, and what not. It made many individuals in the community, during a time of uncertainty, feel very welcome again.”
“It was a similar response to what happened after the Quebec shootings.”
Not everything was as positive, however, with the online reaction generally being considerably more hateful.
“Unfortunately, in the country right now, there has been a push of negativity, islamophobia, anti-immigration, that is underlying throughout some of the political groups in Canada. We see these groups utilizing things like the Yellow Vest movement to push their islamophobia.“
“Post attack, especially on social media, we saw a bit of a resurgence of that hatred. We would read comments that had things like ‘they deserved it,’ or ‘who cares,’ or ‘this is what they do to us.’ We did see a good amount of this come up.”
Moolla didn’t want to focus on the bad reactions of others, however.
“That being said, there were considerably more people who were showing up at the mosque to learn or show support than be hateful.”
Moolla also wanted to extend his thanks to the university for its part in making Regina’s Muslim community feel supported.
“The university also provided services like counselling to individuals who may have been affected.”
“Similarly, campus security stood outside of the prayer rooms on campus to help people feel safe and it was a really welcome gesture for a lot of people.”