Nfld. & Labrador

N.L.'s only mosque to 'beef up' security after Quebec City shooting

The president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador says the violence of a Sunday night shooting at a mosque in Quebec City Sunday is alarming.

Muslim Association of N.L. also concerned about Trump travel restrictions

Expressions of sympathy and solidarity left outside the mosque on Logy Bay Road in St. John's. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador's only mosque is considering increasing security after a shooting in Quebec City on Sunday that left at least six people dead.

"We have to, I would say, beef up the security systems more than what we were planning to do. We already have cameras, but we may have to have more," said the president of the Muslim Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, Syed Pirzada, 

We have to, I would say, beef up the security systems.- Syed Pirzada

"Probably the other mosque [in Quebec City] had the same, and a lot of places have the same cameras and security system, much more than we have, but it's the education … we need to educate our communities how to be more tolerant."

Pirzada said teaching people to react appropriately to threatening behaviour is important, but but extra precautions at the St. John's mosque won't go astray.

"I think we need to have a second look … to make sure our premises is secure, because these things do happen. Right now, although we feel that we are immune and we want to feel that way, prevention is always better," he said.

Syed Pirzada, president of the Muslim Association in N.L., says the shootings should be loudly condemned. (Sherry Vivian/CBC)

​'Canada has no place for such hate'

Pirzada learned about the shooting moments before speaking to the St. John's Morning Show Monday, and offered condolences to the families in Quebec.

"I just have no words to explain my sorrow and grief that this is happening in our country, in Canada."

After living in St. John's for almost 20 years he said he's "not seen such type of terrorist act or violence."

"I'm so deeply affected by this."

While it's not clear what motivated the Quebec City shooting, "this killing, coming with a plan, coming with this intent — I have not seen this type of violence, at least in Canada. This is unheard of in our country. That's why it's very, very upsetting and alarming," Pirzada said. 

"Canada has no place for such violence. Canada has no place for such hate, hate crimes," he said. "It should be condemned in [the] harshest possible words.

Father's Pain

Sunday night's shooting led to a difficult conversation between Hasan Hai, a Muslim living in St. John's, and his two children during the ride to school Monday. 

"I had to tell my eight and 10 year old why was I crying," said Hai.

He told his kids that "some bad people, they hurt some people in Quebec City."

Hasan Hai, a muslim living in St. John's says no one should have to have a conversation with their children like the one that he had following a shooting at a Quebec City mosque. 2:55

When his kids asked why, Hai answered that the shooters "hated them because they were different."

"Is that because of Donald Trump?" Hai's daughter replied. 

"I said in part, yes. It's people like him, leaders like him spreading a narrative of hate and making it okay for everyone else to act and feel like that," said Hai.

"No one should have that conversation with their kids or any child."

Trump troubles

Pirzada said the Muslim community in St. John's is concerned about U.S. President Donald Trump's travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries, announced Friday night. 

"It is creating lots of discussion, lots of frustration ... and there's a lot of ambiguity."

People gather to protest against the travel ban imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order, at O'Hare airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. January 28, 2017. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski - RTSXU3O

He said this is just one of Trump's executive orders, and the next four years will be very interesting for the U.S. and its neighbours. 

"Who is going to benefit? As far as I see, only the terrorists, only the terrorists and their supporters will benefit from this division among our countries," he said. 

"And not only that, in the communities, we need to have a dialogue about peace."

MUN waives fees for affected students 

Memorial University denounced Trump's travel ban in a release issued Monday afternoon, and has taken several measures to offer "immediate and tangible support" to students and faculty affected by the 90-day travel restriction to the U.S.

The university said the ban affects international studies, academic conferences, and family relationships of people within the university community. 

"And it poses a significant threat to the free flow of people and ideas and to the values of diversity, inclusion and openness, hallmarks of a strong and healthy society," the release said. 

MUN is waiving application fees for students from the U.S. and the seven countries affected (Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen) for 90 days. 

The university said it's looking into first-semester scholarships for affected students and extra help for students considering travel to the U.S. for academic purposes or requiring immigration advice.

Displays of support

Monday afternoon the City of St. John's lowered its flags to half-mast in honour of the shooting victims, according to a Facebook post from Ron Ellsworth.

The government of Newfoundland and Labrador also announced on Twitter they would be lowering the flags on the Quebec-Labrador.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show