Sending a strong message of support, dozens of people stood guard at the local mosque in Owen Sound, Ontario, after the worshipping house was vandalized for the second time, London CTV News reported.
“We’re still fearful, but at the same time we’re moved as well,” said Waleed Aslam, the congregation spokesman for Owen Sound Muslim Association.
He said he was amazed to see the community so engaged in protecting the mosque after the vandalism.
The event was planned by Ruth Lovell Stanners, who used to be the mayor of Owen Sound.
“It’s sickening, it makes you actually feel sick, when you realize that there are people who feel this way in our community,” Lovell Stanners said.
Stanners suggested the idea after the mosque was vandalized twice, the first with eggs and tomato sauce and the second with mustard and eggs at the front entrance and parking area.
While the first act was waved off as a freak incident by most people in the congregation, the second had mosque members more on edge, Aslam said.
“If someone had the audacity to come back and do the same thing after so much public criticism so much public shunning, then they have some serious motives there,” he said.
“At that point I had some members asking me what if another Christchurch, New Zealand happens? God forbid, what if a shooting happens? What if we get attacked while we’re praying?”
Gathering at the mosque, supporters were later invited into the mosque to witness evening prayer.
Suzie Cochrane, 53, was one of the few who stayed to observe and ask questions about the religion and culture.
“We met as strangers, and yet the minute we stepped on the grounds, we became friends,” she said. “…I believe we all have a right to live in this community peacefully, (and) to worship or not worship any God that we choose, and (to) do this safely.”
Aslam believes that interfaith collaboration has grown within the community.
“Diversity is our strength. We should be accepting and celebrating our diversity,” he said.
“It only takes one bad egg to ruin it for everyone,” Aslam said. “However, the outpouring of love that we’ve seen have uplifted our spirits.”
Earlier in March, faith communities of Greater Toronto Area formed ‘rings of peace’ at over a dozen Toronto area mosques during the weekly Friday prayer to support the Muslim community after Christchurch shooting.
Toronto Muslims also reciprocated and formed ‘rings of peace’ around local synagogues in November 2018 as a show of solidarity with the Jewish community following the mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.