As darkness fell on Monday, a large crowd gathered at City Square Plaza to offer solidarity with all Muslims in Quebec. Those present expressed sympathy for the victims of Sunday’s deadly shooting, and were united by a desire to stand behind a frightened community, The Vancouver Sun reports.
In the wake of the attack at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec which saw six people killed and many more wounded, Mosques across the country — including Regina’s Mahmood Mosque — have beefed up security. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was charged Monday with six counts of first-degree murder as well as five counts of attempted murder.
Some of those gathered in Regina held signs decrying the recent immigration executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump, which caused chaos at airports this weekend. Trump has denied the order is a “Muslim ban.”
“I think it’s a really scary time right now, especially for people with a Muslim background, with what’s going on in the States and now what happened in Canada,” said Alejandra Cabrera. “I think we need to stand by them and support them more than ever. I feel like people are waking up finally, they’re not being so apathetic anymore.”
“This is not human. This is not what people do,” she said of the Quebec City attack. “I’m happy to see people in Regina being active and actually doing something.”
“I came here tonight because what happened in Quebec was outrageous,” said Ron Bourgeault. “But it’s not surprising given the fabricated hysteria against Muslim people.”
“I’m actually quite surprised,” he said of the large turnout, as leaders from the local Muslim community addressed the crowd. “It was very impromptu. It’s telling of the social conscience in this country; people are not of that mentality, that they go off and kill, based on whatever they have fabricated in their minds.”
With the attack coming in the aftermath of the Trump administration’s move — which banned Syrian refugees as well as nationals from a total of seven Muslim-majority countries — some have blamed the atmosphere created in the U.S. for stoking tensions elsewhere.
“We’ll see what motivated it,” Bourgeault said of the Quebec City killings, saying he had been listening to various media panels discuss theories on the attack before coming to the vigil.
“Personally, following the American election, Trump played that line all through the election, of creating hysteria against Muslim people, as well as Mexicans and so on,” he said. “The Trump Republicans are creating hysteria against identifiable people.”
Zarqa Nawaz — who later addressed the crowds gathered — said upon arriving that she was delighted with the support, but had real concerns over recent developments.
“As Muslims we are so happy to see so much support and solidarity,” she said. “I think we’re in shock that something like this could happen in Canada. To see it happen in our country … it was just so overwhelming, the horror of the situation.”
“Things have happened so quickly after what Trump did; it’s obvious that what he is doing is causing a lot of hate to spread to Muslim communities,” she said of the executive order.
“Our genuine fear is, is this just the tip of the iceberg for what’s to come in the future for Muslims? The rhetoric coming out of the U.S. has been so vitriolic … that it’s affecting how people feel about the community,” she added.
“For someone to go over the edge and go into a mosque and slaughter people in worship, what does that mean? We’re worried in a way that we weren’t worried before. That’s what we’re saying: ‘Is this the beginning of something worse?’ ”
“I’m having to ask my Jewish friends: ‘Are these the signs?’ And they’re starting to tell me, ‘Yeah, these are the signs,’ ” Nawaz concluded. “There’s a fascist leader in the United States that’s targeting our community very specifically, and now we’re seeing what happens as a result of that hatred towards one community.”