Terrorist attacks in New Zealand felt in the Sea to Sky 

Perpetrators of these heinous attacks want people to be afraid, but the mosque is always open, says North Vancouver Iman

click to enlarge PHOTO: GOOGLE MAPS - North Vancouver's Masjid Ar-Rahman.
  • Photo: GOOGLE MAPS
  • North Vancouver's Masjid Ar-Rahman.

The impact of the terrorist attacks on mosques in New Zealand, rippled across the globe and through the Sea to Sky Corridor on Friday.

"We would not want this to happen to anybody, regardless of who the victims are or who the perpetrators are," said Iman Petrit Decani of North Vancouver's Masjid Ar-Rahman. "This is unacceptable, anywhere."

A purported white supremacist killed 49 Muslim worshippers during their Friday prayers at two mosques in Christchurch.

That led to law enforcement in North America mobilizing around mosques.

"We are working with our local mosque leaders and have increased our presence and patrols throughout B.C. Our sympathies are with #ChristChurch #NZ and all of those impacted by this tragedy," the BC RCMP tweeted shortly after the attacks, adding the force was not aware of any specific threats in the province.

At Masjid Ar-Rahman, a place of worship some Squamish Muslims travel regularly to attend, there was an RCMP presence for Friday prayers.

Decani told The Chief he was grateful the officers came to patrol outside.

"That definitely gives some reassurance," he said.

"That type of extremism could breed other extremism — we see that all the time," he said of the New Zealand shootings.

Up to 200 attend the North Van mosque's Friday prayers each week.

Since the terrorist attack at the Quebec City mosque on January 29, 2017, which left six dead and wounded many others, the North Vancouver mosque has had an increased relationship with local police, Decani said.

The hatred that seems to have led to the New Zealand attack isn't just a far off problem, he said, it can be seen here at home.

"There are some groups with those ideas — anti-immigrant and white supremacist-types. They try to feel like they are the oppressed ones and that people are taking over... these are the exact [same] ideas."

Negative impressions of Muslims are also spread through the media, he added.

While the mood was sombre on Friday, neighbours of the mosque also came by. There were letters, flowers, and words of support and solidarity.

These were gestures that were positive and appreciated, he said.

Perpetrators of these heinous attacks want people to be afraid, but the mosque is always open, Decani said.

He encourages Squamish residents and anyone interested to come to the mosque for a visit.

"Just to find out that they are pretty much similar, in terms of their lives," he said. Everybody has different beliefs but everybody has the same issues as everybody else."


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