Ottawa joins together for vigil after Christchurch attack

Dozens of people gathered at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street to pay tribute to the victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings.

49 killed, dozens injured in shooting at two New Zealand mosques

Dozens of people gathered at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street to honour the victims of the mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

People from all over Ottawa came out Friday to a vigil for the victims of the Christchurch mosque attacks.

The vigil was organized by the National Council of Canadian Muslims and took place at the Human Rights Monument on Elgin Street to allow the community to show their support.

Many people were responding to the targettng of Muslims in a place of worship and the contents of a manifesto linked to the man who has been charged with the attack, that contained white-supremacist and anti-immigrant opinions.

This is what some people at the vigil had to say. Their remarks have been edited for clarity and length.

Nasser Chahbar, 24, University of Ottawa law student

Nassar Chahbar, a spoken-word poet and law student, addressed the crowd at the vigil for victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

I'd be lying if I were to say that I was shocked. You know the emotions are what you get, the shock, but when you settle that down and you really look at the current state of things it's not shocking, because we've brushed this under the rug too much.

We're here today. This is going to happen again. I pray that it doesn't, but we'd be naive in thinking that everything's going to be solved overnight.

From that point of view we've got to come together.

Esman Ghali, 28

I brought my baby girl with me and I feel like growing up in a society where these things may, unfortunately, happen, I want her to be able to stand her ground if she chooses to wear the veil, for example. And in a lot of places the veil is condemned such as Quebec, unfortunately.

I just want her to feel proud and to feel she's able to express her opinion and stand against injustices, because an injustice against anyone is an injustice against everyone. She should be able to feel that. So I think it's really important to bring your little ones.

Eman Ghali brought her baby daughter to the vigil for the victims of the New Zealand mosque shootings. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Fareed Khan, 58, community activist

I felt the need to come out and stand in solidarity with people who were remembering the people who were killed and injured in New Zealand; to stand with my community, the Muslim community, at a time when we feel very vulnerable — when we feel like we've been punched in the gut in a big way.

[I came], frankly, to stand with those people who believe that we cannot just any longer just talk about Islamophobia and hate. We have to actually take decisive actions to combat white supremacy and white nationalism.

Fareed Khan, a consultant and community activist, said he wants national leadership to counter the spread of hate speech targetting minority groups, including Muslims. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)

Sawssan Kari, 27

What worries me most is the amount of people that share similar views [to the shooter[ and you see that mostly on social media. So, I worry when I'm driving or when I'm at work and I'm like, does the person next to me that's the person next to me share these thoughts?

That's what scares me the most. It also frustrates me that we can't do anything about it.

We've seen many politicians come out and they issue blanket statements, they don't refer to Muslims. I think it's really important to refer to these Muslims as victims and I think many people fear doing that.

Events like this [vigil] are important. Governments need to see that people are condemning these kinds of actions and they need to support their people. 

Sawssan Kari said coming to the vigil was a way to call for action from political leaders and denounce Islamophobia. (Matthew Kupfer/CBC)