On the first Friday following the deadly attack at the Islamic Center in Quebec, hundreds of demonstrators from many faiths formed a “human shield” around a mosque in Toronto. Jews, Christians, and people of no faith gathered to show their solidarity with the Muslims inside, who, in spite of the recent killings, had gathered for prayer nonetheless. Organized by Jewish rabbi, the event first consisted only of congregants from the local synagogue, but as others in Toronto heard and saw the demonstrations, many more joined in.
While many people in the United States are aware of the rise in Islamophobia since 9/11, few know that the same sentiments exist in Canada. Alexandre Bissonnette, a young French-Canadian, became the most violent of the anti-Islamic dissenters when he killed six people and badly injured five more two weeks ago. However, the response of politicians and ordinary citizens with demonstrations such as these have turned the tragedy into an opportunity to speak out against hatred. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Syed Pirzada, the imam of the mosque where the attacks occurred, said that Canada’s response to Bissonnette’s killings showed the country’s overall inclusivity and intolerance of hatred.