Peaceful Local Reaction to International Terrorist Attack

On Friday March 18, 49 people were killed in a mass shooting at two mosques in the City of Christchurch, New Zealand. The 28-year-old shooter was charged with murder after shooting 42 people in Al-Noor Mosque, and then seven people in Linwood Mosque, which is approximately five kilometres away. Tarrant livestreamed the shooting on Facebook while shooting and killing Muslims on a Friday, the Muslim Holy day of prayer. Tarrant’s terrorist attack was a direct act of Islamophobia, as it follows his 74-page manifesto which contains white nationalist ideology.

Communities worldwide were devastated by Tarrant’s mass murder, a hate crime which was the worst mass shooting in New Zealand’s history. New Zealanders all over the country acted, with Muslims locally and globally, to stand against this act of terrorism. The Friday following the shootings, thousands gathered around the Al-Noor mosque, and created a ring of peace and protection in solidarity with praying Muslims. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was present during the prayers, and joined arms with people in the ring of peace, after making a speech on the intolerance of such terrorism in New Zealand.

Groups all over New Zealand showed solidarity with their fellow Muslim friends and community members by performing the traditional Maori ceremonial dance known as the Haka. From students to motorcycle clubs, community members performed the Haka and formed rings of protection and peace around mosques to honour the victims of the shooting. Worldwide, people are taking action against this crime, using it as a wake up call and motivation for change within their own communities. In Peterborough-Nogojiwanong, community members came together to make clear that such acts of terrorism and hatred will not be tolerated in this city.

Rally and postering blitz at Confederation Park. Photo by Lubna Sadek.

On Wednesday March 20, the Migrant Rights Network in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong organized a peaceful rally and postering blitz for the International Day of Elimination of Racism, which officially takes place on March 21. Gathering on the first day of spring, the purpose of the rally was to speak out against racism and to come together as a community to support marginalized folks within the Peterborough-Nogojiwanong population.

Rachelle Sauvè, one of the main organizers of the event, spoke kind and truthful words on the issue of racism at the rally and on the need to have collective action against it. Sauvè highlighted the need to work towards creating anti-racist and pro-migrant laws and policies.

“No one is illegal,” stated Sauvè. The rise of discrimination against migrants is problematic, and Sauvè reminded folks that unless someone is native to the land, everyone in Canada is a settler and migrant.

Members of the community, including Shauna Redskye and Mehrangiz Monsef, also spoke at the event. Redskye, speaking as an Indigenous person, and Monsef, speaking as an immigrant who came to Canada as a refugee, spoke on about how important it is for the community to show kindness and tolerance to one another. Both emphasized the urgency of action against racism. Muahmmed Sheikh of the Kawartha Muslim Religious Association was present and said a few words of gratitude to the Peterborough-Nogojiwanong community for the support and solidarity they have shown Muslims in the city.

A moment of silence then took place at the rally to honour those who were killed in the Christchurch shootings. Attendees grabbed available posters with words speaking out against racism, and hung these posters all over the city, so that inhabitants of Peterborough -Nogojiwanong can wake up to words against racism.

Peterborough Community Members creating a ring of protection and peace outside the Al-Salaam Mosque.

The following Friday, community members joined hands forming a ring of peace and protection around the Al-Salaam Mosque in Peterborough-Nogojiwanong, to protect praying Muslims during on the Holy day of Prayer. Participants held up posters in Arabic and English with peaceful and welcoming phrases, such as “We Are All One,” “السلام عليكم: Peace be Upon You,” and “أنتم هنا في أمان: You are Safe Here.” Complimentary refreshments were available for everyone, as thanks to those volunteering their time as supporters.

The honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister of International Development and for Women and Gender Equality, was also present. As a Muslim Afghan-Canadian, Monsef exhibited a powerful presence in showing support of fellow community members in her home Peterborough-Nogojiwanong. She also spoke of coming together as a community against violent acts of terror.

Complimentary food at the mosque on Friday. Sign says “Ahlan wa Sahlan” in Arabic, translation “Welcome.” Photo by Lubna Sadek.

The Peterborough-Nogojiwanong community has shown time and time again that peace and love always win. In Peterborough-Nogojiwanong, these gatherings show that acts of terror can be overruled by love and solidarity from the community. Advocates of hate within the community will not be empowered, and the people of this city continue to prove that they will stand against discrimination and terrorism.