Religion

A show of solidarity at a Halifax mosque

Members of other religions visit in support of local Muslim community

Two men praying at Ummah Masjid in Halifax.   Thomas Cobbett Labonte

“You can always find something bright even in the darkest of times.”

That was part of Moataz Soliman’s Jummah Khutbah, Friday prayer, at the Ummah Mosque and Community Centre.

While giving his Khutbah, or sermon, a larger crowd than usual was sitting in front of him. Behind the regulars, hundreds of “neighbours” were listening to him as well.

“What good thing can come out of such a sad situation?” asks Soliman. “This struggle strengthens the good people. Strengthens what is good. Brings about many good things in many people — and one of the things I see in front of my eyes now is our neighbours sitting with us.”

There were always going to be strangers at this event. The Jummah Khutbah is one of many events in the Interfaith Harmony Week. Interfaith Harmony Week is an U.N. sponsored event that promotes communication and understanding between faiths in one municipality.

No one last week, however, could have predicted the size of the crowd that came to participate on Friday.

In response to the terrorist attack on a Quebec City mosque on Jan. 29, hundreds of people gathered at the mosque on Friday and, in a show of solidarity, formed a human circle around it by holding hands together and standing outside the building.

“When we are surrounding the mosque facing out, we are protecting the sanctity of the sanctuary inside,” says Rev. Norm Horofker. “We respect, honour and encourage those in prayer and their right to do that in peace.”

Horofker is the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax and one of the organizers of this gathering. “I just started the ball rolling on social media and it took off,” he says.

Kim MacAuley is one of the key coordinators of Interfaith Harmony Halifax and was also at the mosque.

She says that tragedies like the one in that happened in Quebec City shows how important it is to have communication and trust between all communities in Halifax.

“What we need to do is really be proactive so to build the right conditions for peace, harmony and goodwill. That’s what Interfaith Harmony Week is all about,” says MacAuley.

“The support we received today and the previous days is really heartwarming. I cannot describe it in words. It’s beautiful,” says Soliman.

He says people don’t need special events to come and visit, however.

“The mosque is always open. We don’t even need a program,” says Soliman. “The doors are always open and anyone can listen and ask questions.”