June 22nd, 2024

Ontario Muslim family mourned at Lethbridge vigil

By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman For the Lethbridge Herald on June 16, 2021.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Members of the Muslim commuity listen to a speaker during a vigil held by the Lethbridge Muslim Association Monday evening at the Lethbridge Islamic Centre.

The Lethbridge Muslim Association held a vigil at the Lethbridge Islamic Centre on Monday evening to honour the Muslim family killed in London, Ont.
Abdelbasat Aborawi, president of the Lethbridge Muslim Association said that the vigil was a way to provide support for their community and the family in Ontario, to let them know that they feel their pain, feel their loss and their hearts and prayers go out to them.
Around 100 members of the community took part in the vigil including Mayor Chris Spearman, LPS Chief Shahin Mehdizadeh and Lethbridge MP Rachel Harder.
Aborawi said that he felt a mixture of sadness, frustration and anger when he first heard the news about the Ontario family, because that is something that should not happen in Canada.
“You would think that everyone is living in harmony and this should not have happened, so people get scared here, too. And that’s part of this gathering today is to reassure them that they are safe here, we are surrounded by very kind and very supportive friends from different backgrounds, different faiths and different cultures,” said Aborawi.
He said that even though the tragic event took place, he and his family feel safe here in Lethbridge as they have never been victims of harassment or discrimination.
Mayor Chris Spearman recognized that Islamophobia is real, and it has no place in the community.
“It’s not acceptable. But it is not enough to offer words of support anymore, we need to take action. Stop the acts of a few ruining the lives of many,” said Spearman.
Spearman also noted that it is very important to get comfortable with the uncomfortable conversations and start calling out racism when we see it happen.
He said that he wants to see our city be welcoming and to continue that way for many years to come.
Shahin Mehdizadeh, LPS Chief, recognized that every citizen regardless of race, faith, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, country of origin or political affiliation deserves to feel safe, secure and welcomed in their community. Therefore, when an attack is focused on any particular group, it has a negative impact on the entire community.
“The Lethbridge Police Service is here to serve all citizens and is committed to ensure the safety and well-being of every member of our community. Our thoughts and prayers are with you and we stand with the Muslim community,” said Mehdizadeh.
Mehdizadeh mentioned that he has noticed the improvement and evolution of Canada when it comes to racism, but there is a lot of work that needs to be done still.
“One thing I know, myself as an immigrant, I came to this country in 1984 (and) this country has evolved a lot in that aspect and we are a better place even from 1984, and hopefully will continue to get better,” said Mehdizadeh.
Mehdizadeh reassured the Muslim community that the police service is here to serve them, to make sure they are protected, and they feel safe.
“If anything goes wrong, please call us and allow us to do our job and service to this community, which includes every citizen in the Muslim community,” added Mehdizadeh.
Lethbridge MP Rachel Harder became visibly emotional after she extended her condolences to those in attendance, as they gathered and mourned the loss of four members of the Muslim community.
Harder noted the fact that with four members of a family killed in London, ON, simply because of their Muslim faith, it was atrocious and altogether heartbreaking.
“I believe this is nothing more than a demonstration of severe hate, which is something that should not, cannot be a part of the Canada I love, and you love,” said Harder.
Harder mentioned that in this country we are guaranteed the freedom to worship, and this cannot exist without the freedom from fear, which every Canadian has a right to.
“It is my sincere hope that this tragic loss (unites) all Canadians to renew their commitment to respecting the rights and freedoms of others. Today I join my heart with yours as you mourn along within your community,” said Harder.

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