Author: Kathryn Greenway
Source: Montreal Gazette
Monday evening, over 200 people crammed into the Association Musulmane Turque de Montréal, commonly called the Dorval Mosque, to show their support in the wake of the Quebec City attack on a mosque which left six people dead.
Imam Mehmet Deger and his wife Nour Deger greeted each man, woman and child with a warm hello and a handshake.
“I am so sorry” was the collective reply as people filed into the meeting room to sit on the carpet or grab a remaining chair.
“We don’t know how to explain to the children who lost their fathers (in Quebec City),” Deger told the crowd. “We welcome you and thank you for your support. We must send a message of peace.”
“Now we cannot feel secure. People were praying and they were shot,” Nadia Kalai, a member of the mosque, said as the crowd continued to swell.
The Dorval Mosque has been vandalized numerous times, the most recent incident last week when a car in the mosque parking lot was damaged.
On Monday, a police cruiser idled near the mosque parking lot.
When the meeting room became too cramped, people gathered outside in the chill, standing in a circle holding candles and softly singing Amazing Grace.
“I work for a German/American company and travel a lot. I have never had trouble crossing the American border, even wearing my hijab, but that changed,” Sherifa Assouz said. “I had a business trip planned this week. It has been cancelled.”
Assouz was speaking of the uncertainty Muslims are experiencing since President Donald Trump announced strict new measures and outright bans which will affect Muslims and refugees around the world who want to settle, or even visit, in the United States.
Lindsay Patrick heard about the vigil from friend Uzma Gilani, a member of the West Island Muslim community.
“Sometimes it is difficult not to sink into a dark place when something like (Quebec City) happens” Gilani said. “This support really is uplifting.”
Patrick saw a direct link between Trump’s anti-Muslim rhetoric during the presidential election campaign and the Quebec City attack.
“We should fear for the future,” Patrick said. “He has made it acceptable to hate and to act on it.”
“I am shaking,” Amira Elias said with tears in her eyes. “We are a peaceful people. Hateful people do this sort of thing to try to make us react. We will not.”
The vigil was organized by Sheila Laursen, a member of the local chapter of the Raging Grannies and a respected voice in the West Island.