Burnaby RCMP have stepped up patrols at the four mosques in and around our city today in the wake of the horrific massacres in Christchurch, New Zealand that left at least 49 people dead.
I’m still shaking as I read those numbers. They are so overwhelming.
Two shootings at two separate mosques in a virulent terrorist attack.
Since the news first broke of the shootings, I have been thinking back to February when I entered the doors of Burnaby’s Masjid Al-Salaam mosque for the first time for a special open house designed to bring the community closer with the local Muslim community.
The mosque’s members organized a day of information to dispel misconceptions (polite euphemism) about Islam that have led to rampant Islamophobia around the globe.
“In a world with ever-growing stigma and confusion around Islam and Muslims, we want to open our doors, our minds and our hearts to everyone around us, and build a stronger community,” said Asma Mazhar, one of the event organizers.
I was greeted with such warmth and kindness inside the mosque. I was given the chance to ask questions and watch people in prayer. I learned a lot and left with a happy feeling inside.
Then I wrote about the experience and posted the story on Facebook.
That’s when the happy feeling left my body.
The column was met with a few positive comments, but a lot of the responses were just ugly rhetoric and disgusting memes.
Some even questioned why such an event was needed, as though they had never heard of the Quebec mosque massacre.
Friday’s events in New Zealand drove home the point of why more efforts need to be made to counter the hate that is radicalizing people against Muslims.
According to a story in the Associated Press, “The gunman behind at least one of the mosque shootings in New Zealand that left 49 people dead on Friday tried to make a few things clear in the manifesto he left behind: He is a 28-year-old Australian white nationalist who hates immigrants.”
The gunman’s manifesto (I’m not naming this monster) talks about a crusade against Muslims.
Canada is not immune to this garbage, of course. I mentioned the Quebec massacre – an event that apparently greatly influenced the shooter in New Zealand.
So for those people still wondering why Muslims living in Burnaby would host an open house to counter hate, you have another deadly example.
The hatred is being spread across our country and will intensify as the federal election grows closer.
People want you to be afraid. People want you to hate.
Don’t give into it.
Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44