Residents promote acceptance, understanding after Quebec shooting

Jason Kerr/Daily Herald Imam Goma’a Makhlouf of the Prince Albert Mosque on Second Ave West speaks to assembled members of the community on Saturday. Makhlouf condemned all violence, and thanked local residents for their compassion and empathy.

Prince Albert’s Muslim community is looking to turn pain and fear into hope and understanding.

On Saturday, members of the Prince Albert Mosque on Second Avenue West opened their doors to local residents, in hopes of increasing communication and acceptance between Muslim and non-Muslim residents.

Imam Goma’a Makhlouf said that in light of the recent shooting at a Mosque in Quebec City, it was important to build bridges instead of burning them down.

“When it comes to events like this, we should put our religions aside,” he said. “We should love each other for the sake of humanity.”

Since the shooting occurred on Jan. 29, Makhlouf said he’s received calls from people who are distressed and worried about the future. Despite the anguish it’s caused, he said the shooting would have a silver lining if it can help bring people closer together.

“We are all still humans,” he explained. “The message for all humanity is to love each other (and) make this world a better place for them to live in.”

During an interview afterwards, Makhlouf condemned all violence, and said too many people are using faith as an excuse to justify their own indefensible actions.

Seeing and hearing from so many local residents, like Grace Mennonite Church representative Dale Schiele and Saskatchewan Penitentiary deacon Brad Taylor, was a touching and emotional moment for him. His only regret was that the meeting didn’t happen sooner.

For the rest of this story, please see the Feb. 7 online or print edition of the Daily Herald.