Mosques open doors to Canadians amid New Zealand shootings
Katherine DeClerq, CTV News Toronto
Published Tuesday, March 19, 2019 9:21PM EDT
Mosques across the country are opening their doors to the public amid two mass shootings in New Zealand last week.
The nationwide campaign encourages Canadians to “visit a mosque” and learn more about Islam, with the goal of dispelling misconceptions about the religion and to “build bridges of understanding.”
“In an effort to combat Islamophobia, this campaign gives Canadians an opportunity to meet their Muslim neighbours and friends and learn about the true peaceful teachings of Islam,” said Lal Khan Malik, president of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at in Canada. “Mosques are not places of hatred. They are places of peace and love.”
The nationwide campaign called “Visit a Mosque” launched on Tuesday, days after a heavily-armed gunman entered two mosques during afternoon prayers in Christchurch, New Zealand and killed 50 people.
About 49 others were also injured in the attack.
At a news conference held Tuesday, Malik said that he appreciates the outpouring of concern and messages of solidarity the Muslim community has received after the attacks in New Zealand, but that a larger understanding of Islam is necessary.
“The world has witnessed an expedience rise in nationalism and far-right wing groups. Most of this rise comes from ignorance and protectionism,” Malik said. “Everyone has a story and the more we are open to hearing those stories from their point of view, hearing their pain and challenges, the more open we are to having empathy and knowing we are one and the same.”
“We can then see ourselves in each other.”
Malik said he hopes that these visits will result in meaningful dialogue and encourage people to have faith in each other.
Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama`at mosques and prayer centres across the country will be open to members of the public throughout the week.