Supporting our Muslim sisters and brothers in these sad times

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Assalamu Alaikum. Peace be upon you.

On this Holy Day of prayer, I wish to share my thoughts on the ongoing persecution of Muslims in Quebec, other parts of Canada, United States, Europe, Australia and around the world.

I have been saddened, perplexed and completely emotional since the shooting of worshippers at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec.

Six lives were lost and many others wounded and forever traumatized by the horrifying experience on that fateful day. Six wives are now widowed and seventeen children have lost their fathers to an untimely death ignited by hate.

I have been trying to find the words to express my sorrow at such an extreme act of hate and cruelty towards innocent victims in a place of worship. We witnessed a similar shooting of Black Christians by a lone White gunman in the Charleston church shooting last year.

How can people be savagely murdered in a place of worship?

Places of worship are sacred and should not be sullied with bullets. It leaves you with a helpless feeling that the world is sinking into an abysmal state of despair.

It is most disheartening that Muslims are being targeted for their faith. Some of the kindest, generous, peace-loving and humble people I know are Muslims. Many of my devout Muslim friends, acquaintances, mentors and colleagues pray five times a day and worship Allah faithfully. Generalizing that all Muslims are extremists is completely abhorrent because that is not the case. As with any religious practice or faith, some followers may hold extremist views and practice their faith conservatively. But that does not define the majority of the group.

The assumption that every member of any group is the same and share similar extremist views only leads to unfounded accusations, fear mongering and hatred.

The strong opposition towards ‘others’ including Muslims, Blacks, Arabs, is due to the perception that if people are different, they are inherently ‘bad’ and are the enemy. This opposition is largely fuelled by ignorance, bigotry, cowardice, fear and ‘isms’ which only incites doubt, hatred, evil and a state of despair for everyone.

Our lives are forever changed because we now live in a constant state of apprehension and fear of each other.

Travelling is no longer a leisurely experience because we are all subjected to airport scrutiny and security threats that can affect anyone irrespective of race, religion, ethnicity or culture. Westerners may be targeted while travelling to other parts of the world in retaliation for the United States travel ban imposed on citizens from targeted countries. Our daily lives are forever monitored by security cameras and law enforcement personnel due to fear of anticipated threats or acts of violence.

But I choose to have a positive outlook and believe that there are still more good-natured people in the world than evil mongers. I have to reassure myself that love and kindness can still flourish in this world.

I grew up in a country where religion has never been a dividing force. Instead, it has been the bridge that brings us together amidst ethnic and economic divides. During the atrocious rebel war in Sierra Leone, our religious leaders from diverse faiths prayed together and facilitated peace talks resulting in a peaceful resolution of the war and transition of power to a democratically elected government.

In Sierra Leone and many other African countries, we celebrate all religious observances and holidays respectfully and heartily as national events. I believe that different faiths and forms of worship help to strengthen and unite a nation, especially in times of turmoil and chaos.

We find solace and peace in our diverse faith, religions, traditions and cultural practices. Inter-marriage among Christians and Muslims is quite common in Sierra Leone. Christian and Muslim prayers are said at all national and public events, festivities, social gatherings, school celebrations and funerals.

I pray that there will come a time when people can practice their religion freely without fear or persecution. When many of the victims of the Quebec mosque shooting went for evening prayers on that fateful day, none of them imagined that they will be murdered. Many had immigrated to Canada seeking a safe haven, peace and the promise of a new beginning, devoid of war, political unrest and persecution from their home countries.

Many immigrants and refugees come to Canada expecting a peaceful life filled with opportunities for success, because Canada prides itself in its diversity and multiculturalism. Instead, many are now living in fear of persecution, discrimination and harassment.

But Canada still has an opportunity to live up to its promise of multiculturalism. It is up to Canadians to create a peaceful, welcoming and inclusive society, where everyone feels safe, valued and has equitable access to opportunities for success.

I fervently hope there are a lot of people with good-will committed to making this a reality in Canada. I hope the same for Muslims and immigrants in the United States, Europe and other parts of the world.

May peace reign on earth, in-sha-Allah. May God protect and bless us all.

May-Marie is driven by passion and purpose to tirelessly promote social change, diversity, equity and women's empowerment in both her personal and professional endeavours.

1 Comment

  1. konakargobai@yahoo.co.uk'

    Rhoda

    February 13, 2017 at 5:37 am

    Fantastic

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