After a deadly attack last year on a mosque in Quebec, Christians and Jews formed human “rings of peace” around mosques across Canada to help Muslim worshippers feel safer on their way in.
This past weekend, Muslims did the same for six synagogues in Toronto.
Several hundred people, arriving in busloads from different mosques, stood shoulder to shoulder around the synagogues with one very clear message.
“We’re here for you,” Fatima Sajan said.
Sajan was one of the organizers with the National Council of Canadian Muslims for last weekend’s “Rings of Peace.” A dozen organizations got together days after the October 27 attack on a Pittsburgh synagogue to plan how they could best show their support for the Jewish community.
The human rings of supporters – which included people of many faiths – may have been an act of love and support; but they were also a sign of strength.
“They were symbolic,” Sajan said. “In order to get to the synagogue you have to go through us first.”
Dr. Hamid Slimi, chairman at the Canadian Centre for Deen Studies, and other Muslims visited four synagogues on Saturday morning, among them Beth Sholom and Beth Tzedec.
“I’m proud of our community who stands strong against #Antisemitism the same way as #islamophobia & all forms of #bigotry,” he tweeted.
Solel Congregation, a synagogue in Mississauga, saw more than 250 people from all faiths lining its garden.
A mosque was targeted last year
Sajan said the Pittsburgh shooting, in which 11 people were killed, hit close to home for the Muslim community.
In January 2017, a gunman opened fire in a crowed of men, women and children inside the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center during Sunday evening prayers. Six people were killed.
“We’ve been seeing over the past two years that hate crimes have been increasing, and the severity of these attacks has been increasing,” Sajan said. “It’s not just about one community – we’re all facing one common hate and one common intolerance.”
She said Muslims are determined to stand together with their Jewish neighbors.
“It’s not just up to the Jewish community to solve anti-Semitism,” she told CNN. “We have to recognize that these issues are common forms of hatred. And we’ll be working together to address the hate.”