By: Saad Ejaz
Thousands of Canadians across the country have sought to show their support for the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting, as the country struggled to understand how it became a setting for the tragic events on Jan. 29.
On Jan. 30, as the flags in front of the Burke Science Building flew at half mast, McMaster University students, bundled against the cold, stood in solidarity to mourn the lives lost in the Quebec City Mosque shooting.
Dareen El-Sayed, the co-president of McMaster Muslims for Peace and Justice, says the tragic events were a shock.
“It was a lot closer to home – it was home,” said El-Sayed.
MMPJ’s event on Monday held a Maghreb prayer outside of Burk Science Building to take a stance to remember the victims of Sunday’s attack.
“The people who were killed were killed while they were in the mosque while they were going to pray… and our response to standing and taking that time to first of all stand in solidarity and secondly grieve and mourn…would be through prayer,” said El-Sayed.
A prayer was also held in the McMaster University Student Centre, where McMaster president Patrick Deane spoke in solidarity.
“The tragedy of the victims is fundamentally an incomprehensible reality… I don’t know how you get your mind around such things nor should one ever have to,” said Deane.
All week long, messages of hope and support for the stricken community have ranged from vigils, to open-podiums, to forming a “ring of peace” around local community mosques.
The attack took place amid protests around the world after the U.S president Donald Trump enacted a travel ban on seven Muslim majority countries.
“For a leader of a country to be saying these things – what kind of bar does that set for everyone else?” said Youssef Khaky the president of the McMaster Muslim Student Association.
El-Sayed cited the focus on crimes done by marginalized groups in comparison to others as a key issue.
“In each community there is the good and the bad. What is ironic is the fact that if an act may have come out of a marginalized community… the emphasis on the bad compared to other communities is much bigger… it is crazy how a crime can be labeled in two different ways based on the ethnicity of the person who committed it… contrary to being framed as a one person incident,” said El-Sayed.
Member of the McMaster Muslim Student Association, Anas Alwan, pointed to the current political dialogue for being a part of the climate fostering hostility towards Muslims.
“We need to recognize the need to identify that this is a problem that exists and need to look within our campus to find a solution that best fits the problem,” said Alwan, alluding to events earlier in the term when students on campus booked a Mills Memorial Library study room for a ‘Ku Klux Klan’ meeting and the neo-nazi posters on campus in November.
The events held by MMPJ have emphasized the prospect of being unapologetically Muslim. This means representing the Muslim identity regardless of what is going on around the world.
“It is crazy how a crime can be labeled in two different ways based on the ethnicity of the person who committed it…”
Co-president of McMaster Muslims for Justice and Peace
“When we hear about these attacks, what we stress is that these types of things will not scare us and these things will not make us shy away from portraying our Muslim identity to the world,” said Walid Abdulaziz the co-president of MMPJ.
Following the events in the past few weeks, McMaster has recognized its multicultural and inclusive community open to all students.
“We need to keep our eyes on what is at risk, and the importance of playing our parts to defend the values of inclusiveness and mutual support… the university will defend those values and every member of the community with everything at our disposal… that has to be said over and over again… I hope everyone regardless of how they are affected by the Quebec events or by what is going on will turn to the university for support,” said Deane.