Canadians Formed 'Rings Of Peace' Outside Mosques While Muslims Prayed After The Quebec City Shooting

Our neighbors to the north are determined to show the Muslim community that they belong.

The Quebec City mosque shooting that killed six and wounded eight hit Canadian Muslims hard. It came directly in the wake of the American executive order barring visitors from seven predominantly Muslim countries and halting the refugee resettlement program. Many had looked to Canada as a beacon of liberal democratic values. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even said that his country would take in the refugees that the U.S. turned away. 

The fatal shooting served as a reminder that Canada is no stranger to creeping anti-Muslim sentiment. While there is still reckoning to do with that painful reality, Canada's reputation as a multicultural, welcoming nation is no accident, and the empathetic response to the Quebec City shooting shows why. 

On the first Friday following the incident, non-Muslim Canadians in Toronto gathered to form a human circle outside the Islamic Information and Dawah Center during afternoon prayers. Residents came out to participate in making "rings of peace," a symbolic gesture of solidarity with their Muslim friends and neighbors.

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Yael Splansky, a rabbi at Toronto's Holy Blossom Temple, who organized the event, told CTV that she hoped their gesture will reassure Muslims that they're safe, especially in mosques. "No Canadian should be afraid to go to their house of worship to pray," Splansky said. "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."

She added that she was inspired by a similar response abroad when Muslims formed human circles outside a synagogue during sabbath prayers in Oslo, Norway, after Jewish institutions were attacked. 

Ilyas Ally, an assistant imam at the Toronto mosque, told CBC News that he was heartened by the scene. "To see there are people out there — Jews, Christians, people of other faiths or no particular faith, who really care about the Muslim community — I think that says a lot and it's really reassuring," he said.

The gesture was replicated outside of Toronto, too. Locals formed a human shield outside Newfoundland's only mosque on Friday as Muslims prayed inside, The Guardian reported. Syed Pirzada of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador told the crowd that the Muslim community was overwhelmed by the deluge of support after the shooting. 

"Although this tragedy has taken an irreparable toll on Muslims across the country, the kindness and generosity of fellow Canadians has been a great source of comfort," Pirzada said. "Canada has spoken: no to hate, no to bigotry, no to religious violence, no to intolerance."

A Plus has reached out to Ilyas Ally for comment.

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