Hundreds gathered in cold weather at Nathan Phillips Square on Friday to mourn the losses of the victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings on Sunday.
“I can’t imagine losing my kids and family just because we went to go pray. Just because of my religion,” said Shagufa Syed who came to offer her condolences and prayers with her daughter, Ameena.
Syed wore a black hijab over her head. Her glasses were wet with the tears in her eyes.
A man went on a shooting rampage on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand last Sunday afternoon killing at least 49 men, women, and children. Many worshippers from that afternoon also suffered injuries with 34 people in the hospital including many in the intensive care unit for critical injuries.
The gunman opened fire in two mosques: Masjid-al-Nour and Linwood Masjid during the Friday afternoon Duh’r prayers — a time when many Muslims attend the mosque with their families for prayer and worship.
Ameena Syed said she has friends in New Zealand and Australia who are devastated about this “horrific atrocity.”
“I’m in shock,” she said. “We can never imagine the pain those families are going through but we’re here. We’re strong and we will pray for them. Always.”
“We are not a threat. We offer peace and love to our communities everywhere; all over the world.”
Rev. Alexa Gilmour of Windermere United Church spoke at the gathering, saying, “We tonight come to mourn and to know that in the prayers of this community, in the stillness of bodies breathing together, healing is found.”
Rima Berns-McGown, MPP for he Beaches–East York said she was speaking as someone who had extended family in the holocaust and was particularly upset by the alleged perpetrator gleefully live streaming the attack in New Zealand.
“There can be no platforms for Islamophobes and anti Semites and racists,” she said. “Don’t follow them on social media. Don’t hire them and, if you find that they’re working for you, make sure you fire them.”