Courtice Imam overwhelmed by community support

Courtice Imam overwhelmed by community support
A Courtice mosque is inviting people to come together to honour the victims of the Christchurch attacks and to thank the community for its support.

It’s been a week since the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques, and a mosque in Courtice is inviting people of all faiths to come together to honour the victims and to thank the community for its support.

“I can say humanity is with us,” said Imam Gomaa Gomaa of Al-Rayan Islamic Centre Courtice Masjid.

It’s been a difficult week for Gomaa and his congregation. But his faith hasn’t wavered, and his belief in his community has become stronger.

Flowers, cards and handwritten letters have been dropped off and sent to the Courtice mosque among phone calls and emails to Gomaa. This after last Friday’s deadly shooting in two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques left 50 people dead and dozens more injured.

“All of us were so scared when we heard this news, but when we got this support from the community, it means a lot. It means that we’re supported by our neighbours and the kind people around us. They have soft hearts,” said Gomaa.

Gomaa has been the Imam at the Courtice mosque for the past two and a half years. Shortly after he moved from Egypt, the mosque shooting in Quebec City happened. While the Courtice mosque received community support after that attack, Gomaa says they’ve been overwhelmed this time around.

“I would like to thank everyone for standing with us during these hard times,” said Gomaa.

He’s hoping he can relay that message personally Friday as the Islamic Centre invites its neighbours to stand together in solidarity for the New Zealand victims.

Other events are taking place this weekend throughout the region to honour the victims, including outside Pickering City Hall at Esplanade Park Friday night, where a vigil will be held.

“It shows unity. It shows support in terms of the people of New Zealand and the suffering that they’ve gone through. It’s very heartbreaking and to show them, ‘Hey we’re all united. I don’t have to be Muslim, I don’t have to be a Christian to show that this was a wrong act, ” said Shaheen Butt, Pickering Ward 3 Councillor.

Flags at Pickering City Hall have been lowered to half mast.

Books of condolence have been placed in the lobby, at the library and at the rec centre. The books will be sent to the prime minister of New Zealand to show Pickering’s support.
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