Guelph’s Muslim community gathers after deadly New Zealand attacks

Guelph’s Muslim community gathers after deadly New Zealand attacks
A day after the deadly mosque attacks in New Zealand, the Muslim Society of Guelph opened its doors on Friday to the entire community.

Hundreds gathered for afternoon prayer led by Dr. Jibran Khokhar.

He said he had nothing prepared after a sleepless night and obligations as an assistant professor at the University of Guelph earlier in the day.

His speech was “almost all off the cuff,” he said afterwards.

Dr. Khokhar’s speech in front of a packed room of men and children hinged on the idea of not letting hate win. “Not this round and not any around,” he said. “That’s what we all have to try to remember moving forward.”

“What we need to do from now on and as far out as we can continue to do it, is remember the people that lost their lives yesterday, remember their families, remember their loved ones in our prayers.”

The massacres at two mosques in Christchurch, also during Friday afternoon prayer, left 49 dead and 48 wounded.

Worshippers attending prayer on Friday in Guelph were greeted by an unmarked Guelph police cruiser sitting the parking lot.

Mayor Cam Guthrie also spoke and said he received a text message in the middle of night requesting additional police and security at the mosque during prayer.

“That’s what our society has come to? Where we need police to be at a mosque, a place of worship. It’s unbelievable,” he said.

“You are the exact opposite of what’s occurred. All the things and events that you do in our community should be celebrated over and over again.”

Guelph’s MP Lloyd Longfield and MPP Mike Schreiner also spoke during the ceremony and both were visibly shaken by the tragedy.

“We have to stop hate in all of its forms,” Longfield said.

Schreiner echoed the statements from Longfield and Guthrie and said he can’t imagine how someone could hate a community that shows so much love and kindness.

“How could anyone hate such beautiful brothers and sisters is just beyond my imagination,” he said. “The only way we can fight hate is to talk about the ways in which we all express love for each other.”
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