Bruce County Canadians come together in solidarity with Muslim families
Compliments of Allan Thompson

February 6, 2017


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People began to gather ...

... and candles were lit

In a truly remarkable event, more than 250 people gathered in sub-zero temperatures to stand in solidarity Friday night with Kincardine’s Muslim community at a candlelight vigil outside the Kincardine Islamic Centre.

Just before the event began at 6 pm, scores of people were lined up down the street to sign a book of condolence for those mourning the deaths of six Muslim men killed in the attack on a mosque in Quebec City last Sunday.

Book of Condolence

The Islamic Centre serves as a gathering place and mosque for Kincardine’s small Muslim community. Quite by coincidence, my campaign office during the 2015 election was co-located in the same building as the Islamic Centre, right across the street from the Tim Horton’s in downtown Kincardine, so we got to know each other quite well.

After last weekend’s tragedy, I got in touch with a friend at the mosque, Ayman Faddah, and got involved with their plans to hold a vigil on Friday, the same day that funerals were being held in Quebec City for some of the victims.

With little time to organize, we posted a simple notice to Facebook, borrowed the candles we use in the Christmas Eve service at the Presbyterian church in Glammis, and then to our amazement, watched as dozens and dozens of people arrived, bundled up against the bitter cold. People drove from as far away as Bayfield, Goderich and Port Elgin to show their support for their Muslim neighbours.

Ayman Faddah welcomed everyone and said how overwhelmed he and other members of the community have been by the outpouring of support. The events in Quebec City had left them heavy hearted and fearful, for some even worried about the wellbeing of their children. How remarkable then to see so many people show up for tonight’s vigil.

Rev. Kathy Fraser, from Knox Presbyterian Church, spoke on behalf of the community, a community that raised tens of thousands of dollars as part of a campaign to sponsor refugees in the wake of the Syrian crisis.

Rev. Kathy Fraser

“It is a tremendous community that we live in here in Kincardine, brothers and sisters are standing together tonight as a demonstration of the love we have for one another and the shared sorrow and support and encouragement that we want to share with one another as well," she said.

Rev. Fraser went on to quote from the 4th century theologian St. Augustine: "What does love look like?
It has the hands to help others.
It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy.
It has the eyes to see misery and want.
It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men.”

"And I wanted to add that it has the compassionate heart and the courageous spirit to gather together on a cold winter’s night and to stand together and to share the warmth," she concluded.

Huron-Bruce MPP Lisa Thompson said how proud she was of the people of Kincardine for the amazing turnout. “Here in Kincardine and across Huron-Bruce and across Canada we stand together, with all Canadians,” Thompson said. “We stand united in the sense that we are an open, inclusive and welcoming community,’’ said Thompson, who was echoed by MP Ben Lobb and Kincardine councillor Laura Haight.

Ayman Faddah invited me to the microphone as well. I spoke about how we became neighbours when we rented the same building and how comforting it was to hear the sounds of their prayers on the other side of the walls.

“It was really lovely a few minutes before 6 O’Clock to see so many people lining up to come and to be here. And as Lisa said, it makes you proud of a community that comes together that way. Because we are neighbours.’’

“I know we don’t need to remind you that this your home, and we’re neighbours. But that’s the reason for being here tonight.”

I also spoke of how the timing for tonight’s vigil was changed to 6 pm so that it wouldn’t conflict with the wake and Legion memorial service for former Kincardine mayor and war hero Charlie Mann.

“Charlie is a former mayor but is also a decorated war hero and was fighting for the kind of country where people would come together this way and stand together and say to their neighbours that ‘you are welcome, and you are part of our community and we are very, very glad that you are here."

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Asif Raza, a local member of the Muslim community in Kincardine, read from a stirring poem that he wrote in the wake of the Quebec shootings. “Let us unite in future that we share;  Glorious and free, full of compassion and care.

If they say hate begets fear;
I say, let us say, Love begets hope.
Hope builds our ability to cope; 
With differences in race, color or faith;
The True North strong and free,

But for those who have fallen;
Your Soul quenched in love,
Your body drenched in blood. 
You fell like a moth for light,

You arose as if dove in flight.

Then, in the most touching part of the evening, Ayman Faddah read aloud the names of the dead from Quebec City, with a moment of silence for quiet prayer between each name.

Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42 ...
Abdelkrim Hassane, 41 ...
Khaled Belkacemi, 60 ...
Aboubaker Thabti, 44 ...
Ibrahima Barry, 39

Then Ayman invited everyone in the crowd to turn to those next to them and exchange the Muslim message of peace, in Arabic ... As Salaam Alaikum. 

And to end, he invited all those gathered to sing

O' Canada.

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Monday, February 06, 2017