The Current

Why this Muslim-Canadian mother is talking to her kids about 'survival' in wake of New Zealand mosque attacks

Last week's attack on two mosques in New Zealand was a terrible echo of the Quebec City mosque shooting in 2017. One Muslim Canadian woman says she's having to engage in tough conversations with her kids, as she worries they could fall victim to the same extremist violence.

Shireen Ahmed told her son to protect his little brother with his body in event of attack

Sports writer and podcast co-host Shireen Ahmed said she found herself constantly scanning the doors of her mosque on Friday, wondering if she'd have to protect her children from an attack like the one that killed 50 people in New Zealand that same day. (Erica Ngao)

Read Story Transcript

In the wake of last week's violent mosque shootings in New Zealand, one Muslim Canadian says she is having tough conversations about "survival" with her children, as she fears her family could fall victim to the same extremist violence.

"I literally said to my older son about my youngest, 'If God forbid someone walks in [to attack the mosque], then cover him with your body, because he's younger than you are," sports writer and podcast co-host Shireen Ahmed told The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti.

"My 14-year-old said, 'Mama, this is Canada.' And I said, 'This is exactly why I'm telling you this, because you might not remember two years ago, but I certainly do.'"

Having to have these conversations is "jarring," said Ahmed, but she added they are part of her job as a parent.

Impact of attacks reverberate around world

On Friday, a gunman attacked two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, killing 50 people and injuring dozens more. The shooting has reverberated around the world, including in Quebec City, where a gunman killed six men at a mosque in 2017.

During Friday prayers with her kids in Oakville, Ont., Ahmed found herself scanning the mosque doors every time they opened and someone walked through.

Now I am like, how do I get the hell out if I need to?- Shireen Ahmed, Muslim-Canadian mother and sports writer

In the event of an attack, she said she was ready to throw herself on top of her daughter to protect her.

"A prayer space and a mosque is supposed to be a place that I can focus on spiritual practice and worship," said Ahmed. "But now I am like, how do I get the hell out if I need to?"

To learn more about how Canada's Muslim community is reacting in the wake of the New Zealand mosque attacks, Tremonti spoke to:

  • Bashir Mohamed, a freelance writer in Edmonton.
  • Shireen Ahmed, a sports writer and co-host of the podcast Burn It All Down.
  • Fatima Syed, a journalist for the National Observer.

Click 'listen' near the top of this page to hear the full conversation.

Produced by Samira Mohyeddin, Allie Jaynes and Mary-Catherine McIntosh.