SASKATOON – Showing Muslims the other face of Saskatoon, more than 200 people attended the open house hosted by the Canadian Muslim man who was attached a month ago while walking home from the mosque.
“Compassion needs action. So people felt really negative and disheartened by what happened and we really wanted to have a chance for people to show my father that he is wanted in Saskatoon and it is safe for him,” Abu Sheikh’s daughter, Aisha, told CBC.
On July 13, Abu Sheikh was walking home from his morning prayers at the mosque in his traditional clothes when a truck mounted the sidewalk in front of him and the driver attempted to run him down.
The truck followed him home, and the people inside later threw bricks at the Sheikhs’ house.
“As people read the news, residents, and people nationally just felt really horrible. We collectively felt horrible,” Aisha said
“We thought, ‘We need to turn this into something positive for us.”
Neighbors Without Borders invited the community to meet at the mosque near the Sheikhs’ home and take the same walk as Abu did the day he was attacked.
The family also hosted an event to show support for Sheikh.
About 200 people came to the event to counter hate, including dignitaries like Mayor Charlie Clark, Deputy Premier Gordon Wyant and provincial NDP leader, Ryan Meili.
Speaking front of the crowd said the community response was inspiring in the wake of the attack.
“The response could easily have been one of anger, one of turning away from the community,” Meili said in front of the crowd, commending the inspiring community response to the attack.
“But they did the opposite. They did something very, very impressive, something very courageous. They used this as an opportunity to come together.”
At the Sheikhs’ house, Abu handed out flowers which were put in a garden under the boarded-up windows of the house.
“It’s an easy thing, to have people come together and feel like we have a sense of belonging,” Merilyn Irwin, a member of the community, said.
“During a time of adversity, we can stand together.”
In the park, cake and tea were` served, and Abu spoke briefly to thank the gathered crowd for their solidarity and support.
“I see in front of me, this is the real Saskatoon,” he said. “I just say thank you all for coming today, for making me feel safe again.”