About 150 people of different faiths formed a support circle around Halifax's largest mosque Friday to show solidarity with the city's Muslims.
This public gesture came on the heels of a fatal shooting in Quebec City earlier this week that left six people dead. As arms joined in a quiet symbolic circle of protection outside, Friday prayers were happening inside the Ummah Mosque, just off Chebucto Road.
Rev. Norm Horofker, the minister of the Universalist Unitarian Church of Halifax, and Moataz Soliman, who gives sermons at the Ummah Mosque, met Friday for what they hope was the first of many face-to-face encounters.
Understanding and communication limits the possibility of bigotry and hatred, Soliman said.
"This heart-warming support and visit from other religious leaders and people of other faith is great."
Horofker helped organize Friday's circle by contacting various churches. Other so-called rings of peace were organized across the country.
"People wanted to do this, people wanted to find a way to show their support for the Muslim community and this was one way to do it," Horofker said.
"I felt like it was a symbolic gesture where we could — someone used the word 'embrace' the mosque — we could form this circle around and provide a statement to the world that what's going on inside is sacred and that we are determined to protect that sacredness."
Soliman said Friday's event let his Muslims know that they're not alone.
"We feel that everybody is hurt like we are hurt and we feel the sense of community," he said. "What happened is not Quebec and is not Canada."
Darren Borden, whose Muslim name is Osama Borden, said he was moved by the support.
"It was actually emotional, like good to see the community out like this, it was beautiful actually," Borden said.