Manitobans condemn New Zealand mosque shootings

By | March 15, 2019

Kayla Rosen and Josh Crabb
Published Friday, March 15, 2019 11:07AM CST
Last Updated Friday, March 15, 2019 11:13AM CST

People across Manitoba are showing their support for the Muslim community following mass shootings on Friday at two New Zealand mosques that have left at least 49 people dead.

One man has been arrested and charged with murder, and two other armed suspects have been taken into custody.

In a statement, the Winnipeg Police Service expressed their condolences to the family and friends of the victims. They said they have been in contact with members of the Manitoba Islamic Association and will be increasing their presence and visibility around local mosques.

Islamic Social Services Association of Manitoba executive director Shahina Siddiqui said she’s still trying to fully process the news.

“The more news you see the more difficult it gets, just the barbarity in which they were done, literally walking up to the people who were praying for their life and just shooting. It’s surreal,” said Siddiqui. “Even though everyone in New Zealand is so far away the pain is very close to everybody’s heart here.”

The Islamic Social Services Association happens to be hosting a two-day conference on race, gender, class and religion.

Siddiqui said something must be done to put a stop to the rise of hatred spreading across the world.

“I just wish people who are spreading fear about our community, demonizing Islam and dehumanizing Muslims, that people think they are like cattle that you can go in and just shoot them down in a place of worship would take a breather because really today my community’s being targeted tomorrow it could be yours because hate is like fire, it catches on to whatever is near it.”

A release sent on behalf of the Manitoba Islamic Association, Winnipeg Central Mosque, Winnipeg Islamic Centre, Hussaini Association of Manitoba, Islamic Social Services Association and the Canadian Muslim Women’s Institute says that mosques across the province will be holding Friday prayers this afternoon, despite grief and safety concerns.

“Members of the Muslim community are asked to be vigilant and cautious, but also show their resilience by attending Friday prayers this afternoon,” the release says.

Premier Brian Pallister released a statement calling the attack “despicable” and “cowardly.”

“Freedom of religion, peace and rule of law are pillars of democracy and the world we share,” his statement says.

“On behalf of all Manitobans, we strongly condemn this horrific attack against Muslims.”

The board of directors of the Manitoba Multifaith Council, in a statement, offered their sympathies to the victims and their families and said people need to join together to condemn hatred.

“We are witnessing an explosion of racism and violence around the world,” it says.

“Hate speech is supported by all too many as free speech and an inherent right. Simply put, that means we are not doing enough—to educate, to condemn, and to join together to combat hate. We can only be stronger when standing together.”

Mayor Brian Bowman tweeted that his thoughts and prayers are with those affected by the shootings. 

The Manitoba Métis Federation will be flying the flags at their home office at half-mast in a show of solidarity and respect.