'We all ache as human beings': Vigil for Edmonton attack held in Windsor

Members of the Windsor Islamic Council are hosting a vigil Tuesday night to support the people of Edmonton following the weekend's attacks that sent people to hospital.
Chair of the Windsor Islamic Council Dr. Maher El-Masri said Tuesday's vigil is about denouncing attacks made in the name of his religion. (Chris Ensing/CBC)

The chair of the Windsor Islamic Council says that members of the Muslim community often have a difficult time grieving after terrorist attacks because they instantly think about distancing themselves from the alleged attackers. 

Members of the council hosted a vigil Tuesday night in Windsor to pray for the people injured in a series of attacks in Edmonton this weekend. 

Police said they are investigating "acts of terrorism" after a man drove a vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians and stabbed a police officer. 

"Often times we get angry when these things happen," said Dr. Maher El-Masri, chair of the Windsor Islamic Council.

"As Canadians we have to come together and make sure we put things in perspective: This is a criminal, heinous act that was committed in the name of our religion, let's be clear about that."

Windsor Vigil

4 years ago
Dr. Maher El-Masri, chair of the Windsor Islamic Council, talks about the vigil held on Tuesday. 0:57

Police said they found an ISIS flag inside of the vehicle used by the Somali refugee.

"It is important that we come together as a united community to send a clear message that terror and hate has no place in our society and our Muslim community," said El-Masri.

'No time to grieve'

El-Masri said there was a noticeable difference in his reaction to the attacks in Las Vegas, where a man killed at least 59 people. 

"You know that it does cross our mind sometimes," said El-Masri, when asked if there's a difference in his reactions following the two attacks.

"The truth is when this act took place in Las Vegas soon after I was able to see that it's not a guy who claims to be a Muslim guy," he said.

"I was able to grieve," said El-Masri. "Sometimes and often times, unfortunately, when it's a Muslim guy who does it I have no time to grieve. All I have to think about it is 'Okay, what's next? Is there going to be a backlash? Are they going to paint all Muslims in a single brush?"

The attack in Las Vegas has not been connected to ISIS and police said the killer is a wealthy 64-year-old white male.

"So it's very sad. We all suffer when these things happen, we all ache as human beings," said El-Masri.

"But the sad part of the story is when these acts are done by a guy who claims to be a Muslim we are not given time to grieve. We sometimes have to go on our feet and start thinking what it is that we can do to make sure that everybody knows that this guy represents nothing but evil."