Toronto

Toronto's Iranian community is 'bleeding' from Wednesday's plane crash, imam says

Scores of people gathered at the Islamic Iranian Centre in North York Thursday evening for a vigil to remember victims of Wednesday’s plane crash in Iran, which claimed 176 lives.

‘We had a great loss in our community,’ Dr. Kazem Moosavi says

Dr. Kazem Moosavi, president and Imam at the Islamic Iranian Centre in North York. (CBC)

Scores of people gathered at the Islamic Iranian Centre in North York Thursday evening for a vigil to remember victims of Wednesday's plane crash in Iran, which claimed 176 lives.

The majority of people on board Ukraine International Airlines Flight PS752 — 138 passengers — were headed to Canada; and 63 were Canadian citizens.

Dr. Kazem Moosavi, president and imam of the centre, said the Iranians in Toronto are filled with despair, disappointment and frustration.

"We had a great loss in our community. The community is traumatized because of the loss of so many innocent people," Moosavi said.

"We are crying by bleeding from our hearts. It's not just simple tears. Our heart is bleeding."

The vigil was held hours after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told reporters intelligence suggested the plane was struck by an Iranian missile.

Moosavi used the occasion to call on Canada's political leaders to be mindful of the Iranian people, who he said are the ones being hurt by sanctions.

Sanctions related to Iran were enacted under the United Nations Act and the Special Economic Measures Act in response to Iran's nuclear and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

Moosavi said Thursday night's vigil was the first held by the centre since Wednesday's tragedy, with another planned for Saturday.

A separate vigil was also held Thursday night at the North York Civic Centre.