BY BILL PHILLIPS
Close to 300 people gathered on the City Hall lawn Monday in a vigil for the victims of Sunday’s massacre at a Quebec City mosque.
Six people were killed and five others injured in the attack, which occurred during evening prayers at the mosque. And while the vigil was to remember the victims of the attack, U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban against seven Muslim countries was also front-and-centre in comments and signs at the vigil.
“For some it was the loss of a father, a son, an uncle, a husband, a friend or a partner,” said organizer Hira Rashid, who described herself as a proud Canadian Muslim. “For everyone it was the loss of our humanity.”
She said “with certainty,” that what happened in Quebec City was influenced by what is happening in the United States.
“President Trump’s hate-speech about minority groups, his ban on Muslims, and his utter disregard for human in decency … has not only resulted in multiple mosques going up in flames, but an increase in violence on minority groups all across the U.S.”
She said the 90-day travel ban is tearing families apart.
She added that terrorist groups, like ISIS, a rejoicing because they want the entire world to hate Muslims.
“But we will not let that happen today,” she said.
Prince George-Valemount MLA Shirley Bond told the crowd that it has been a very emotional time for her.
“Tonight is a chance for us in Prince George to reach out to all of those who are part of our community, our province, and our country,” she said.
With members of Prince George’s Syrian refugee family in the crowd, Bond said one of her proudest moments was when the country “opened their arms and their hearts to those families who are facing unbelievable circumstance in Syria.”
The Tohme family was the first refugee family to arrive in Prince George. Rose Tohme took the opportunity to thank the community for helping them.
“You opened your heart and you received us,” she said. “… We are very lucky, we are very blessed that we came to Canada. We, as Syrian people, are very grateful.”
Chair of the Prince George chapter of the B.C. Muslim Association, Mostafa Mohamed, said gathering reiterated one of the fundamental beliefs of Islam – “that we are all part of one big family.”
Mayor Lyn Hall and city council took a break from their budget deliberations inside City Hall to attend the vigil as well.
“When I look out around the best front yard in Prince George, I see a group of people who are diversified, who are multicultural and who make up the core of what this community is all about,” said Hall. “What happened in Quebec is unthinkable. It’s not what we see in Canada.”
He expressed “heartfelt gratitude,” to Mohamed for “being a part of our community.”