This afternoon, led by the Islamic Society of Kingston and organized by the Kingston Interfaith Community, hundreds of Kingstonians gathered at Confederation Park to hold a solemn vigil. Representatives from 10 different religious traditions joined elected officials, sharing the common ground of their beliefs and mourning the deadly attack on Muslims who were attending Friday prayers at the Al Noor and Linwood mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Imam AbuBakar Mulla of the Islamic Society of Kingston addressed the crowd first, praying earnestly in both Arabic and English. He expressed confidence that the most prevalent reaction in Kingston and across Canada is shared outrage at this mass murder and a desire for solidarity and harmony in the aftermath. He asserted that the Muslim community remains strong and determined. “We will not bow to oppression, discrimination, or sectarianism. We will continue to live in peace, harmony, and understanding. We fear no one. We won’t let ourselves cower in retreat. We will continue to worship God, and we will proudly continue to be Muslims. We pray for those who passed, their surviving families, those injured, and for the many Canadians and global citizens who stood in solidarity and support with the Muslim communities. Now, perhaps more than ever, humanity has an obligation to come together, to work and unite in curbing, curtailing, and condemning all forms of hate, ignorance, and discrimination.”
Mayor Bryan Paterson expressed gratitude that Kingston was gathering to take a stand against hatred. “We reaffirm our commitment to being a warm and inclusive community. To the Muslim community in Kingston, I want you to hear and to know beyond any doubt that we stand with you, we embrace you, we support you.”
After prayers in many languages were offered, Zermaan Khan of the Pakistan Canada Association of Kingston summed up the vigil by stating, “Truly, it feels like I’m in the middle of one big group hug. This is the kind of response that evil and hatred need to see. You have one individual who propagates an act of violence and hatred, but then out of that flows out millions of acts of love.”
The death toll of Friday’s terrorist attack has climbed to 50, with dozens more still hospitalized.