Nfld. & Labrador

Hundreds gather at St. John's mosque in support for Muslim community

Hundreds of people gathered at the mosque in St. John's on Friday as a show of solidarity for Muslims in Newfoundland and Labrador following the attacks on Paris.
Muhammad Nazir, one of the directors with the Religious Social Action Coalition in Newfoundland and Labrador, says that the province is one of the most welcoming for refugees and immigrants. (Megan McCabe/CBC)

Both Muslims and non-Muslims alike gathered for afternoon prayers at the mosque in St. John's Friday.

Close to 400 people attended the prayers to show unity in the face of some Islamophobic backlash following the attacks on Paris. 

Muhammad Nazir is one of the directors of the Religious Social Action Coalition, which is made up of representatives from many of the different religions represented in Newfoundland and Labrador.

He said his non-Muslim counterparts involved with the coalition reached out this week, along with some church and community groups, who wanted to express their solidarity. 

Nazir said that the Muslim community was happy to open Friday's prayers to everyone and were grateful to have support with so much negativity elsewhere in the world. 

The mosque on Logy Bay Road in St. John's is run by the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador and was built in the mid 1980's. (Adam Walsh/CBC)

"They are supporting us on two counts. One is so that people don't misunderstand that we have anything to do with it. Number two, they do think that Muslims are the  most hurt in this, because of the way people will be perceiving them," he said.

"The biggest damage around the world, in terms of the perceptions, has been done to the Muslim community."

Nazir said that some misunderstanding of world issues has resulted in negative comments online and on social media, and that it can be challenging to deal with negative opinions that connect all Muslims with the attacks on Paris.

"We feel a bit sad, and in fact victimized. That we are the victims, and that people should not expect the victims to apologize for some idiots who call themselves Muslims," he said.   

Nazir also said that Newfoundland and Labrador has been welcoming and peaceful following recent events, and he considers it the best province in the country for making immigrants and refugees feel at home.

"This community has been always very peaceful, and in terms of accepting foreigners and refugees and immigrants, this has been a very open community. In fact, if you compare this community [here] in Newfoundland, it's exceptional," he said.

"Canada is much better as compared to a lot of other countries, but out of Canadian provinces, Newfoundland is the best."

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