• James Armstrong

Vaudreuil-Soulanges communities rally to support Muslim neighbours and friends


PHOTO BY JAMES ARMSTRONG

Following the massacre of six Muslims at prayer in Quebec City on Sunday evening, residents from around the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area gather in Hudson to express their support for the Muslim community with meditation and prayer on Monday, January 30.

A candlelight vigil was held at Saint James’ Anglican Church in Hudson on Monday, January 30, to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community locally and around the world. A small but passionate group of seven that gathered to remember the lives of six individuals, brutally slain while at prayer in their Mosque on Sunday, January 29, in Québec City.

Organizer Vivianne LaRiviere, a member of Saint James’ Church, began the short ceremony with a meditation. “May we take some time to pray together, for those of us who do, and for others, to take a few moments to send kind thoughts of love, and to sit with our confusion, our hurts, and our sorrow in community for a little while, regardless of our beliefs or our politics. Coming together in love, peace and solidarity has a power greater than any divisive thought,” she said. Prayers and readings were offered and stories shared.

“We are very, very, very thankful to every single person who has responded to us,” said Islamic Cultural Centre of Vaudreuil-Soulanges member Nabil Rougui in a February 1 interview. “It means more than the world to us,” he added referring to all the expressions of support including the bouquets of flowers and notes of condolence left at the door of the centre. His message to the wider community is one of love and respect.

“We need to spread the love,” he said. “We are counting on the community to help us.”

PHOTO BY CARMEN MARIE FABIO

Though the facility on Harwood Boulevard in Vaudreuil-Dorion was empty a day after the tragic Quebec City mosque shooting, a number of bouquets were left at the door of the former Centre Culturel Islamique de Vaudreuil-Soulanges, one accompanied by an envelope addressed, “À tous les amies de la mosquée.”

He invited residents from the Vaudreuil-Soulanges area to attend an open house at the centre Sunday, February 5, from 12 to 5 p.m. “Basically, we want everyone to live in harmony,” he said, adding Sunday is an opportunity for people to come together and learn more about each other.

Vaudreuil-Dorion Mayor Guy Pilon is planning to attend the event. “It’s very, very, sad what happened on Sunday night,” he told Your Local Journal. “There are no words to describe it.” When asked if the city is planning an event in support of the Muslim community, Pilon replied they would be pleased to help out based on what the community requests. “We have to be careful and respect the people that are hurt,” he noted adding they have to be sensitive to the people in the situation.

The Islamic Cultural Centre of Vaudreuil-Soulanges is located at 100 Boulevard Harwood, Vaudreuil-Dorion, J7V 1X9.

West Island

“We are very concerned about how we are going to handle our security from now on,” said Ahmad Chaar, President of the Canadian Islamic Centre Al-Jamieh on Tuesday, January 31. The centre, located in Dollard-des-Ormeaux serves a large community with daily prayer services. “We are particularly vigilant about our Friday services because that is when we have the most people,” said Chaar. “People are very nervous, some of the usual people who come (to daily prayers) didn’t show up because they are afraid.” He sees part of the security solution coming from volunteers willing to keep watch at the door while others pray. “We don’t want to lock the door because those that arrive late won’t be able to get in,” he said.

“We have been here since 2001 and are the largest centre in Montreal – on a Friday, we have 600-700 people - and we have never had a problem,” said Chaar. He noted that open houses are held frequently and that there is a good rapport with the surrounding community.

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