Muslims fear Quebec attack could be harbinger of more violence
Extremists at home and across the globe are inspired by Trump-style divisive politics
Dr. Khan poses the timeless question: When will we ever learn?
Five times daily, when Muslims turn their faces toward Mecca, they bow their heads and quietly whisper the Words of Allah in salah (prayer). They literally connect with Allah (God). Many become oblivious to the surroundings around them as they solemnly glorify the Creator. During this five to 10 minutes, a Muslim is very vulnerable.
This lesson was painfully demonstrated this week when a 27-year-old non-Muslim Québécois gunman allegedly killed six Muslim worshippers at the Quebec Cultural Islamic Centre in a case where Muslims themselves became the victims of terrorism. They were shot in their backs, in cowardly fashion, while actively engaged in this holy state of prayer.
In the time of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), congregational prayers were held in shifts when in the battlefield, with one group of Muslims standing guard while the other group prayed. Sometimes they would have to delay their prayer altogether while they defended themselves in battle.
In modern times, if Muslims were to resort to taking up arms to guard praying Muslims in mosques, they would likely be called terrorists. Prayers are held five times daily, 24-7, at all mosques, making roundthe-clock police presence at all mosques impractical.
Really? Has it come to this in our beloved Canada?
The correct reaction to these tragedies as human beings is for us to pull together and support each other in peaceful solidarity. Countless Canadians, Americans, Europeans, and fellow humans worldwide did just this in the hours since the attack. Prime Minister Trudeau denounced the attack and reassured Canada’s Muslims in the early hours after the tragedy, as did Rona Ambrose and Tom Mulcair. Tributes and condolences came in rapid fire from Quebec Premier Phillippe Couillard, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynn, as well as Pope Francis, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and even French President François Hollande.
A multitude of vigils have been held across Canada to support those who were killed, including here in Hamilton. Nearly every mosque across Canada has been smothered with flowers and cards and letters of support and website-wishes from non-Muslim well-wishers and supporters, even though it wasn’t even their mosque that was attacked. I have had non-Muslims apologize to me for the attack in Quebec City they had nothing to do with.
The support has been overwhelming and kind. The support has been Canadian.
Clearly, no one — Muslim, Jew, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, black, white, or other — deserves to be killed, particularly while engaged in the solemn act of worshipping God.
Sadly, many Muslims fear this may be the harbinger of more attacks to come. Indeed, Trump’s astonishing rise to the U.S. presidency has clearly emboldened the bigots and racists both in America and, apparently, now here in Canada as well. Trump’s flurry of executive orders in his first week in office, culminating in last weekend’s outrageous, chaotic and family-splitting anti-Muslim refugee ban, dashed all doubts as to whether Trump was serious in his antiMuslim campaign promises, or if these were just bombastic measures to garner votes.
Rightists at home and across the globe are inspired by Trump-style divisive politics. Kelly Leitch and other Conservative leadership candidates are just chomping at the bit to take on Justin Trudeau in the next federal election, and we will watch for Trump-style politics of fear and division.
Indeed, in the Netherlands, anti-Islam/ anti-immigration leader Geert Wilders of the Party for Freedom, also known as the “Dutch Donald Trump,” is on course to win the general election in March. Wilders has pledged to close Netherlands’ borders and shut down mosques riding the European wave of anti-refugee sentiment.
This is downright scary. Almost any opportunist rightist politician, stoking anti-Islam and anti-immigrant fear in the populace, can theoretically ride this wave into power. What is coming next? Will they promise to institute Muslim internment camps as was done to the Japanese? Will politicians be elected on a platform to close all mosques? All it will take is a change in government: elected by “we the people,” the “will of the people” can be a fickle creature.
When will humankind learn from history’s mistakes? Listen, everyone. Civilization needs to move forward, not backwards.
For the time being, we know that the world community has lost six precious souls, including Azzeddine Soufiane, 57 (a grocer, father of three), Khaled Belkacemi, 60 (a Laval University professor), Abdelkrim Hassen, 41 (a government IT worker, father of 3), Aboubaker Thabti 44, and Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry — two Guinean nationals.
May Allah grant them all paradise and comfort to their families, and keep Canada unified, strong and free — ameen.
HAMILTONIANS STOOD TOGETHER IN SUPPORT OF THE MUSLIM COMMUNITY
Hundreds of Hamiltonians turned out to support the local Muslim community after Sunday’s shootings in Quebec. Muslim leader Raza Khan writes that many Muslims worry the violence could be a harbinger of things to come.