Ahmadiyya Muslims stage downtown solidarity march

"We love Canada!" members of Hamilton’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community chanted as they marched through the cold rain near city hall on Friday afternoon.
Hamilton's Ahmadiyya Muslims staged a rally at city hall to show their solidarity with those mourning the loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and warrant officer Patrice Vincent. (John Rieti/CBC)

"We love Canada!" members of Hamilton’s Ahmadiyya Muslim community chanted as they marched through the cold rain near city hall on Friday afternoon.

The group of about 60 staged the rally and march in solidarity with those mourning the loss of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo and warrant officer Patrice Vincent, who were both killed last weeks in acts that have been linked — fairly or not — to Islamic extremism.

Imam Hanan Sobhi said his community has already “categorically and unequivocally” condemned the attacks, but wanted to do more.

"Those are just our words and we wanted to show through our actions that we are in solidarity with Canada," Sobhi said.

Among the crowd, some carried posters honouring Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. (John Rieti/CBC)
It was the first time city’s Ahmadi Muslims — a smaller sect of the faith — have ever staged a public rally.  At city hall, downtown councillor Jason Farr and councillor-elect Matthew Green, who both voiced their support for the Muslim community and thanked them for holding the event.

"I will stand with anyone who is against violence," Green told the group.

Most pedestrians met the group with a smile or nod, however just as a group of young children finished singing "O Canada," one man drove by on King Street and yelled "Go home."

Sobhi dismissed the incident. He said his community, which has a mosque on King Street East, has felt a lot of support in recent weeks, specifically citing the viral video of people decrying an actor posing as an Islamaphobe.

Sobhi, who called the events in Quebec and Ottawa a "huge terror attack on Canadian values," said Friday’s event was also aimed to show those events don’t reflect Islamic values whatsoever.

"We wanted to show from the Islamic side that isn’t what Islam is … our beliefs are to be loyal to this country," he said.