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Lloydminster Muslim community reacts to Christchurch terror attack

Local Islamic groups are condemning the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand. A deadly shooting that started during mid-day prayers on Friday targeted two mosques, killing at least 49 and injuring 42.

The attack is being treated as terrorism by New Zealand authorities. A 28-year-old Australian man identifying as a white nationalist has been arrested and charged with murder. Mohamed Anwar Mangla, president of Lloydminster’s Ahmadiyya Muslim Community is condemning the attack and says he was shocked by the news.

“On behalf of the local community, I strongly condemn this act of terror. I’m really sad for all the families and victims as well,” says Manjla.

The word Islam derives from the Arabic word salaam, meaning peace. Manjla says that those who are radicalized against Islam don’t realize how peaceful of a faith it is. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community holds open events for residents to come and view their mosque and learn about them. Manjla says that when someone does something awful, it doesn’t mean their whole community is bad.

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“When it happens, you cannot say that whole community or religion is bad, it’s just a few of those people. We need to tackle those,” says Manjla. He adds that the community of Lloydminster is very supportive in times like these.

“I’ve personally talked to a few of the law enforcement officers, and they came here and ensured us they are here, and if anything happens or if there’s any suspicious activity that they are here for us. We do feel safe and that’s a good thing about this community.”

Over at the Masjidun Noor Lloydminster Islamic Centre hearts are also heavy. Imam for the mosque, Hafiz Huda, calls it a sad day for the Muslim community. He points to words in the Holy Quran as evidence that all human life has great value.

“As the Holy Quran says about human beings, if you kill one person, you’ve killed all humanity. If you save one person, you’ve saved all humanity. The person who did it is totally wrong. It is very sad news for the Muslim community, and we should care for our community,” says Huda.

Huda believes that hateful messages from politicians and media spread  The shooter referred to Donald Trump as “a symbol of renewed white identity”. On his gun were white-supremacist symbols including the name of the Quebec City mosque shooter, Alexandre Bissonette. In a 74-page manifesto the killer left, he described revenge for European terror attacks, and securing a “future for white children”.

Huda believes that talking with our local about security concerns will help improve safety. He also says that while the community feels relatively safe here in Lloydminster, it’s not a question of their safety alone.

“We have to make sure, altogether, we are safe. Not only the Muslim community. All communities together. We have to run programs and talk about how we can all be safer.”

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