A White Rock Muslim Association director says they received an outpouring of support after 50 Muslims were killed in two mosque shootings in New Zealand on Friday.
Although the attack has been linked to white supremacy extremism, former White Rock Muslim Association president (2006-2018) Asad Syed says the local Muslim community does not pray in fear.
“But we are worried,” Syed said. “When I heard the news, it was really shocking, sad, and then you feel a little anger as the details came out. It was really terrible… We feel anger and we pray for those who departed.”
Syed told Peace Arch News at the mosque Sunday that residents, politicians, and representatives from other religions have reached out to him and the mosque since the shooting.
He said that the Muslim community, as well as other religious communities, are holding a vigil at Surrey City Hall today (Sunday) at 4:30 p.m.
In the day after the attack, cards, flowers and notes were left at the White Rock Muslim Association (15531 24 Ave.) door.
“Dear friends,” one card began, “we grieve with you deeply and we stand with you for freedom and peaceful living. Our hearts and prayers are with you.”
Syed said the notes and flowers make him very proud to be Canadian.
“Our MP Gordie Hogg called me right in the morning. He gave me his condolences and asked if there was any help he could provide. They’re asking what they can do for us.”
Inside the mosque, community members continued with their regular service but the conversation was focused on what happened.
The suspect of the shooting held anti-immigration views, and Syed said he does not view the shooting as an attack on the Muslim religion.
However, Syed said that racism and islamophobia is a trend that seems to be growing.
“We feel that it’s dying down and people are getting better, then something like this (happens). It’s scary,” Syed said.
Syed said Muslims are not afraid of death, and that Muslim communities across the globe took their prayer outdoors to publicly show their support for the victims.
“The next day… they prayed at all of the mosques in New Zealand. There were so many people praying outside on the street just to show that you can’t scare us.”
He said the attack strengthens the Muslim community.
“It’s sad, but it brings people more close. After this incident, they are getting together to put on seminars and trying to figure out how to tackle the issue in a better way.”
Following the shooting, Surrey Mounties stepped up patrols near mosques in the city.
Surrey RCMP Corp. Elenore Sturko said the Surrey RCMP “is, and always will be standing strong with the Muslim community.”
Syed said the association is figuring out ways to eliminate islamophobia through education.
The association’s next event, Meet Your Muslim Neighbours, is planned for June in the South Surrey Recreation and Arts Centre.
“We feel fortunate here, people come out and show sympathy. We never have an issue here,” Syed said.
Syed said the White Rock Muslim Association has about 200 members, and it’s continually growing.