Chilliwack residents offered condolences, sympathy, and support for the local Muslim community after waking up to horrific news of mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
Dr. Osama Ebesh, imam at the Chilliwack Islamic Centre, said he fielded several calls from Chilliwack citizens reaching out in solidarity, as well as sharing condolences for the 49 people killed in New Zealand while attending Friday prayers.
“We are very upset and saddened to hear about this,” Dr. Ebesh said. “Most of those affected by this attack were immigrants. They were peaceful people who had nothing to do with terrorism. Many came from countries where they had seen terrible things, disasters, and war. They just wanted to live in peace.”
The murderous rampage by a gunman who livestreamed his hate crimes, ratcheted up the horror factor for many, but authorities and tech companies were busy taking down the online video footage as fast as possible.
One of the calls Ebesh fielded was from a Chilliwack teacher who wanted to bring students to the Islamic Centre to offer support to the local Muslim community. The centre is affiliated with the B.C. Muslim Association, and is the hub of religious activity for Chilliwack and surrounding area.
Several Chilliwackians announced on social media that they planned to patronize Chilliwack businesses owned by Syrian refugees, or bring their condolences, or flowers to the Islamic Centre.
Chilliwack has revealed its caring heart repeatedly in the past, Ebesh said, like after the Mosque shooting in Quebec for example.
“They have shown their support on many occasions for our community, and we appreciate it very much,” Ebesh said.
Chilliwack resident Wendy Major wrote in a letter that she called up Chilliwack Mayor Ken Popove to ask if the Canadian flag could be flown at half mast in sympathy for the New Zealand victims, and in support of the local Muslim community as well who attend the Islamic Centre in Chilliwack.
“Our diversity is our strength,” Major wrote. “Appreciating each others’ abilities and cultures and faiths is our strength here in Canada as well. We need to become acquainted with each other more and get to know each other better.”
Multiculturalism is the foundation of a tolerant society.
“Our condolences go out to all Islamic faith families in Chilliwack and across this country as we all mourn the innocent victims,” said Major.