Human chain surrounds Edmonton mosque in show of love, support
Worshippers leaving the Rahma Mosque after their afternoon prayers Friday were met by demonstrators who had surrounded the Muslim Association of Canada Islamic Centre in Edmonton.
Some were brought to tears, overcome with emotion as they were greeted by nearly 100 people from various religious and ethnic backgrounds armed with flowers, handshakes and hugs, united against Islamophobia and violence.
“Everyone belongs,” said Karen Kerr, who joined a human chain that stretched around the front of the building. “Love will win, hate doesn't belong here.”
Ahmed Jomha, who was at the mosque for prayer service, was caught off guard by the demonstration.
“I can't believe that I am seeing this. It's amazing to me to see this show of support from different people coming together. I can't explain it,” said Jomha, adding, “the feeling I have inside is just love.”
After six people were killed in a shooting in a mosque in Quebec on Sunday — allegedly carried out by 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette — organizers Jenn Prosser and Laila Ahmed wanted to create the opportunity for members of the community to show that they will not be divided by hate.
“We cannot let the politics of hate divide us; we are a community and this community is very strong,” said Prosser. “By demonstrating that by visibly holding hands and linking arms, we are showing that regardless of our religion or where we come from, we are one community and we will support each other and we will ensure each other is kept safe.”
Ahmed hoped the human chain would not only demonstrate to the community at large that hate and violence will not be tolerated, but prove to local Muslims who may be afraid following the violent attack and a surge in Islamophobic rhetoric that they are welcome and supported.
“These kinds of actions show Edmonton is a safe home; we don't have anything to fear because we have the support behind us. All these people are literally giving the mosque a warm hug, and that's what we need at a time like this,” said Ahmed.
Lorne Dach, MLA for Edmonton-McClung, said it was important for him to join the human chain and stand with all members of his constituency.
“We won't stand for this violence; we stand together in support,” Dach said. “Everyone who was murdered in that mosque could have been one of us on any day in the street. We can't stand silently by and let that violence rule us. We have to stand together and say this is not us, and we will be opposing this in the strongest possible way.”
Jomha said the greeting was like a “blanket of love” and hoped this demonstration would inspire others to embrace Canadian values of inclusion.
“That's one of the fundamental reasons that divisions take place, people don't know each other. The knowledge of each other and the understanding of each other builds the relationship we have as a community,” said Dach, adding he is planning a Canada 150 project to encourage people in his constituency to knock on 150 doors as a way of getting to know their neighbours.