Aamir Hussain saw the violent act of terrorism in Ontario earlier this week and held his family a little bit closer.
After five members of a Muslim family in London who were out for an evening walk were run down by a 20-year-old in a pickup truck, Canadians were left to collectively grieve. Four people in the family – representing three generations – have died, while a nine-year-old boy remains in hospital.
Hussain, who is the president of the Red Deer Islamic Centre said Wednesday there has been an outpouring of support for the mosque and he hopes this tragedy can be used to educate and unite citizens.
“It’s a time when the community needs to come together… it’s a good opportunity to involve the community and it’s a good time to show people that Islamaphobia is something that no one should be thinking about and explaining it,” he said.
Hussain said they’ve reached out to the City of Red Deer to see if they can help raise awareness for the entire Muslim community.
On the whole, Hussain, who moved to Red Deer five years ago from Calgary, said he feels safe in both Canada and in the city.
“Canada is famous for its peace, that’s the country we are all proud of. I feel very secure. I look like a visible minority. I feel very secure wherever I go in Canada,” he said.
“This type of event should be condemned and serious action should be taken.”
Earlier Wednesday, the Islamic Centre issued a call to action among those in power across Canada and Alberta.
“We call on authorities to treat this crime as it should be; an act of terrorism, and commit resources to fighting the rising tide of Islamophobia, and we ask all Muslims to work on educating and raising awareness of the Islamic faith and our religious beliefs that are afforded the same freedom to practice, under the Charter of Rights,” the statement read.
“We also strongly call on our elected officials and law enforcement agencies to allocate resources consistently to recognize and apprehend individuals and groups who bear an agenda of hate and intend to act on it.”
In the legislature Tuesday, MLAs held an emergency debate on a motion to denounce hatred of Islam.
The motion passed unanimously, as Premier Jason Kenney expressed his condolences to the family of the attack in London and said more needs to be done to protect the rights and freedoms of Muslims across Canada and even here in Alberta.
“This has sent a deeply troubling message to our Muslim neighbours across Canada, including here in Alberta, who now wonder if they step foot out of their home to go for a walk down the sidewalk, whether they are going to be targeted by hateful violence,” Kenney said.
He added that there will be an announcement in the coming days about changes to boost police focus on hate crimes in the province.
“Let us together denounce any effort to try to identify or separate Muslims as the other. They are us,” Kenney said in a speech in an emergency session in the legislature Tuesday.
“Muslims in Alberta and Canada must know that when they leave their homes, that when they gather for prayer, that when they live their normal lives, that they live in peace and security. They must know that all of us stand in solidarity and will not tolerate these acts of violence.”