Attendance at a Friday afternoon Muslim prayer service at the General Council Office (GCO) almost doubled last week, thanks to the presence of about two dozen GCO staff members and guests. They were there to show solidarity, following the mass shooting at the Centre Culture Islamique de Québec in late January.

The Muslim prayer group meets in the GCO chapel each week. Prayer group leader Mohamed Osman thanked the visitors for coming, noting that he is grateful that Canadians from coast to coast have been reaching out to their Muslim neighbours after the deadly shootings in the Quebec City mosque.

“Muslims are Canadians,” said Osman. “We pay the same taxes, we go to Tim Hortons, our kid go skiing. This is what we are, and this is a good thing.”

He noted that in the wake of the shooting, some Muslims were feeling angry and resentful. He urged those in attendance to remember the teachings of the Koran. “If somebody does something to you, do not look for revenge,” he said, “Suppress your anger, then forgive the person.”

He added that a strong person does not fight back, but instead, “the strong person holds his anger”

He also rebuked U.S. President Donald Trump for not sending his condolences to Quebec or Canada after the incident.

“We have a different neighbour nowadays,” said Osman.

At the end of the ceremony, Catherine Rodd, acting General Secretary for the United Church, presented Osman with copies of a letter of solidarity from Moderator Jordan Cantwell, translated into Arabic.

Everyone in the prayer group was given a copy of the letter, which included these lines: “In love we reach out to you, our sisters and brothers, our fellow Canadians, to offer support and comfort … We will work side by side with our neighbours of every faith and of no faith to heal the brokenness that fractures our communities and forge bonds of friendship and cooperation.”

—Paul Russell is Communications Coordinator with the Office of the Moderator and General Secretary.