Prayers, tears in Kelowna following New Zealand mosque shootings

There were prayers and tears at the Kelowna Islamic Centre on Friday with the massacre in New Zealand fresh on the minds of worshipers.

Leaders say this was more than an attack on Muslims.

“Mosques, churches and places of worship are a sacred place where people go to seek peace,” said Ahmed Rizki of the Kelowna Islamic Center.

“And an attack on a peaceful place, on peaceful people, is an attack on humanity.”

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Federal public safety minister Ralph Goodale, who was in Kelowna for a funding announcement, spoke about the massacre.

“Attacking innocent people during prayers is appalling. We condemn in the strongest terms the act of terrorism that took place yesterday. All Canadians join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving,” Goodale said.

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Kelowna mayor Colin Basran says events like in New Zealand serve as a reminder on why the city promotes inclusion and diversity.

“This is a very stark reminder of why we continue to do that. Everybody in every community deserves to be able to be accepted, included and feel like they have a place to call home,” Basran said.

Support for the Okanagan Muslim community also came from other religious leaders in the community.

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“This is my first time in 40 years ever being in a mosque, but this time I felt I needed to come and show up and show support, so our brothers here feel safe,” said A.J. Gill of the Kelowna Sikh Temple.

Also showing their support to the local Muslim community is the RCMP, sending a senior member to Friday’s prayer session. And sending a message that the police will be increasing their presence at local mosque.

“Unfortunately,” Rizki said, “that is the world we are living in, at this time.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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