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Halifax imam in 'complete shock' following New Zealand terror attack

Imam Wael Haridy of the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre heard the news early Friday morning when he showed up for morning prayer
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Police block the road near the shooting at a mosque in Linwood, Christchurch, New Zealand, Friday, March 15, 2019. Multiple people were killed during shootings at two mosques full of people attending Friday prayers. (AP Photo/Mark Baker)

The imam at the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre says he's in complete shock following mass shootings at two mosques in New Zealand.

Forty-nine people were killed during Friday prayers in Christchurch and another 48 were injured.

A 28-year-old Australian man has been arrested and charged with murder in what appeared to be a carefully planned assault livestreamed on social media.

"It is clear that this can now only be described as a terrorist attack," New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.

Imam Wael Haridy of the Nova Scotia Islamic Community Centre heard the news early Friday morning when he showed up for morning prayer.

"Kids and women, all these people killed inside a prayer room, you become so sad and are in tears," he said. "Any human that this happens to, anybody, we are sad, whether or not they're Muslim."

He said we need to stop hate and terrorism by spreading love and respecting each other's differences.

Haridy added some people are now questioning their safety and police arrived at the centre Friday to make sure worshippers felt secure.

Halifax Regional Police spokesperson John MacLeod said there's no reason to believe there is a local threat, but officers did want to extend their sympathies and show their support.

"It wouldn't be uncommon for them to stop in on any given day to see how things are ... but certainly under the circumstances, while this tragedy is on the forefront of people's minds, it wouldn't surprise me that officers took extra time to make sure they checked in with folks in the community just to see how they are doing," he said.

The Ummah Masjid And Community Center took to Facebook to extend an open invitiation to anyone wanting to join in their Friday prayer.

"We have received numerous phone calls and messages of sympathy and support from citizens and officials as a show of solidarity and sympathy following the heinous terrorist barbaric killings of peaceful worshippers in New Zealand," said the social media post. "Our loss and grief is humanity's loss and grief. The sanctity of human life has been violated."

 Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released a statement to condemn the terrorist attack.

“Far too often, Muslims suffer unimaginable loss and pain in the places where they should feel safest. Canada remembers too well the sorrow we felt when a senseless attack on the Centre culturel islamique de Québec in Ste-Foy claimed the lives of many innocent people gathered in prayer," he said.

“To move forward as a world, we need to recognize diversity as a source of strength, and not a threat. Last night’s victims were fathers, mothers, and children. They were neighbours, friends, and family members. As with every life taken too soon, the full measure of their loss will never be known."

Mayor Mike Savage took to Twitter to address "another in a long line of assaults that have become all too common."

"Let's counter hatred with kindness, intolerance with open minds. We mourn with the world," he posted on social media.

With files from Associated Press




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Meghan Groff

About the Author: Meghan Groff

Born in Michigan, raised in Ontario, schooled in Indiana & lives in Nova Scotia; Meghan is the community editor for HalifaxToday.ca.
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