About 60 people gathered in downtown Red Deer on Friday to honour the victims of the June 6 terrorist attack in London, Ont. that killed four members of the Afzaal family. An Edmonton mosque was vandalized on Tuesday, just nine days after the violent attack in London. (File photo by Advocate staff)

About 60 people gathered in downtown Red Deer on Friday to honour the victims of the June 6 terrorist attack in London, Ont. that killed four members of the Afzaal family. An Edmonton mosque was vandalized on Tuesday, just nine days after the violent attack in London. (File photo by Advocate staff)

Red Deer Muslim community remains vigilant against hate crime

‘People are a little bit scared’

Red Deer’s Muslim community is more watchful after an Edmonton mosque was vandalized this week.

A spray-painted swastika symbol was discovered on roof of Baitul Hadi Mosque on Tuesday while Canadians are still reeling from the killing of a Muslim family in London, Ont. on June 6. A grandmother, mother, father, and daughter died after they were struck by a truck. Only their nine-year-old son survived.

Aamir Hussain, president of the Red Deer Islamic Centre, said members have been told to be more aware of their surroundings since the crimes in London and Edmonton.

“Everyone is more careful and vigilant. People are a little bit scared,” Hussain said.

He said it took a couple of months before everything settled down after the 2017 shooting at a Quebec City mosque shooting that left six Muslim men dead.

Related:

‘Serious action should be taken’: Red Deer Islamic Centre condemns attack in London, Ont.

The National Canadian Muslim Community said it was deeply concerned about the vandalism at the Edmonton’s Baitul Hadi Mosque.

“As the community is still healing from the grief of the attack on an innocent Muslim family in London, members of the congregation were saddened to see this symbol of hatred on their mosque,” said Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at Canada in a statement.

The group said several other acts of vandalism and trespassing have taken place at mosques in different parts of Canada have been reported since the London attack.

Nasir Butt, Imam of the Baitul Hadi Mosque, said members were deeply disturbed by the rising acts of violence against the Muslim community.

“This is not the way of Canadians, and we must work together to combat anti-Muslim sentiment,” Butt said in the statement.

Hussain said the Red Deer mosque has not been a target for vandals, and there was a lot of public support during the Islamic centre’s vigil held at City Hall Park last Friday to honour the victims in London.

Motorists honked and waived to show their solidarity. He said there was also some discussion with local church representatives about ways to raise awareness in Red Deer.

“We were thinking in the future we could do some collaboration. We can visit different churches, and people from churches can come to the mosque.”

Related:

MPs move to convene emergency Islamophobia summit before August

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney was questioned about comments he made in 2014 to ban niqabs during citizenship ceremonies, and the then-Conservative government’s proposed niqab ban for public servants.

Kenney said he never supported a ban on face coverings for Canadians.

“I have always said that Canada’s a country that protects and respects religious freedom and pluralism, and has no business regulating what people wear, unlike in certain European and Middle Eastern countries that do have bans on face coverings. That has never been proposed. I’ve always opposed that,” Kenney said.

“In fact when I was the federal minister of multiculturalism, I threatened to sue the then PQ government of Quebec on behalf of Canada for a proposed violation of the constitution in banning ostensible religious symbols, including hijabs, niqab, yamakas, crosses, etc., from people receiving or delivering public services.”

Edmonton Mill Woods Conservative MP Tim Uppal recently regretted how the niqab ban contributed to the growing problem of Islamaphobia in Canada. As minister of state for multiculturalism in the Harper government, Uppal was the spokesman for a bill to ban wearing the niqab while taking the oath of citizenship.

Last week, Calgary Nose Hill Conservative MP Michelle Rempel Garner also apologized the Muslim community for the proposed niqab ban.

Hussain said he was not aware of the Kenny’s recent comments, but anything that suppresses freedom, like Quebec’s legislation that bans public sector workers from wearing religious symbols like hijabs, kippas or turbans at work, is not good for Canada.

Thankfully such restrictions do not extend to Alberta, he said.

“Canada is famous for its freedom.”



szielinski@reddeeradvocate.com

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