British Columbia

Security, solidarity top of mind for B.C. Muslims after Quebec mosque shooting

Muslims leaders in B.C. are on alert after six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec mosque.

Muslims leaders in B.C. are on alert after six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec mosque

Flowers and signs of support have been left outside the Masjid Al-Iman mosque in Victoria after a gunman killed 6 men at at Quebec mosque on Sunday. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Muslims leaders in B.C. are on alert after six people were killed in a shooting at a Quebec mosque. 

B.C. Muslim Association representative Aasim Rashid said in the aftermath of previous terror attacks, including those in Paris in 2015, threats were made to the Muslim community.

"I'm hoping and praying for the best and this is not going to act as a stimulus for others to go and do the same thing. In any event, we're going to have to put some measures in place because this is absolutely unacceptable," he said. 

The shooting took place during evening prayers Sunday at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebéc. The six dead are all men. Five others are in hospital. One man has been arrested. 

RCMP E Division spokeswoman Cpl. Janelle Shoihet said police are asking for continued vigilance from the B.C. public. 

"We will have continued and increased presence at various locations," she wrote in a statement to CBC News. "We are awaiting the investigative findings [from Quebec] to help guide further safety and security decisions."

The Al Jamia Masjid mosque on W. 8th Avenue in Vancouver will be open as usual. (CBC)

Haroon Khan, president of the Pakistan Canadian Association, said a spontaneous vigil developed outside the Al Jamia Masjid Mosque in Vancouver late Sunday as news of the Quebec shooting broke. 

"A group of people converged on the mosque and when I arrived there were 30 people of every ethnicity and gender — a lot of young people and families. They were expressing solidarity and many were in tears," he said. 

Al Jamia Masjid mosque trustee Haroon Khan says he will be discussing mosque security later today with Vancouver Police. (CBC)

Meeting with VPD 

Khan said mosque leaders have already been contacted by City of Vancouver staff to discuss security and will meet with Vancouver police today. The mosque will be open as usual.

"It's a spiritual place, it's a social place. It's open to Muslims and non Muslims alike. We help the homeless, we help the hungry, we've had inter-faith programs for years so we're no strangers to keeping our mosque open at all times and this is no different," he said. 

A candlelight vigil will be held at the Al Jamia Masjid mosque at 5:30 p.m. PT Monday. Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and police chief Adam Palmer will be in attendance.

 Khan said plans are also in the works for a large vigil at Jack Poole Plaza sometime on the weekend. 

Rallies and vigils and are being planned across British Columbia.

In Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps announced an interdenominational prayer circle would be held at Centennial Square "to stand in solidarity with our Muslim brothers and sisters... to affirm Victoria as an inclusive, welcoming community."

In Prince George, residents are planning a "show of love and support" for the local Muslim community this evening at city hall..

Kirsty Hirt said she and a friend were making plans already after hearing about the travel ban in the United States, but yesterday's attack in Quebec reinforced her desire to speak out.

"I strongly believe that everybody is welcome in Canada," she said.

With files from Bal Brach, Andrew Kurjata