Tuesday, January 31, 2017
I woke up yesterday to the shocking news that gunmen had attacked a mosque in Quebec City, killing six and injuring others. The initial report was that they had shouted "Alluha Akbar", God is great as they perpetrated their cowardly crime. One of the suspects was of Moroccan background and on social media there was immediate speculation that this was a Sunni/Shiite feud, a "Muslim on Muslim" crime.
We now know that we were being fed false information about the criminals. There was one gunman, a young Quebecois with white supremacist leanings. The other man was actually praying in the mosque when the attack happened and was helping an injured friend. It is remarkable that while he was arrested and detained he harbours no ill feelings toward police because they were doing their job
It is chilling that when innocent Muslims are shot in the back while praying in their place of worship the suspicion is that other Muslims must be the criminals. My heart went out to them and I immediately thought of the Muslim community in Belleville. We have developed a meaningful relationship with a number of the members of the local mosque through our Syrian refugee project and it's hard to imagine what this would have been like without them. We have visited the mosque several times where we have received a warm welcome. Early in January an event at the mosque crammed more than 200 people into their worship space for food and celebration of the arrival of so many Syrian refugees, all of whom are Muslim.
I will reach out to this community about some sort of gathering to honour those who died in Quebec and to reaffirm our relationship as people of God whose deep desire is to be hospitable to others. While I'm shaken by what happened in Quebec City, we will not be deterred in sustaining this meaningful collaboration.