Hawzah News Agency (Mississauga, Canada) – More than 500 people gathered in Mississauga, Ont. on Saturday to pray for the victims of the deadly shooting rampage on Friday at two mosques in Christchurch.
Speakers urged the crowd at Celebration Square, 300 City Centre Dr., to stand in solidarity with the 50 people who died and 50 others who were injured in New Zealand during prayers. Thirty-six survivors remain in hospital in Christchurch. Eleven are in critical condition.
The speakers, representing various faiths and all three levels of government, told the vigil it is important to fight all forms of hatred and to shut down extremism.
Rabia Khedr, executive director of the Muslim Council of Peel, said the community must remain strong.
"We stand together against all forms of hate and oppression and we will never let it poison our community, our society, here in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon," Khedr said. "It is a difficult time. But we will be resilient."
Three community organizations that represent Canadian Muslims — DawaNet, the Muslim Council of Peel and TorontoMuslims.com — organized the event.
'We are with you'
Mississauga Coun. Ron Starr, speaking on behalf of Mayor Bonnie Crombie, who could not attend, said Friday was a "dark and difficult day" for Muslim communities across the world.
"We mourn the loss of  innocent people," he said. We are all deeply saddened with the acts of hatred and pure evil, such as these, that continue to happen around the world, and we have to do something about that.
"Our city will always stand up for what is right. Here is Mississauga, we embrace our diversity."
Starr said the city prays for those who died and those who will suffer for the rest of their lives.
"Acts like this only strengthen our resolve and bring us closer together. We are sending that message to New Zealand that we are with you."
'Please feel free to go and worship'
Urz Heer, speaking on behalf of Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, said the mayor wanted to let members of the Muslim community know that they should not to be afraid to attend prayers.
"This is what the haters want. They want us to be afraid. Please feel free to go and worship. The mayor has taken every precaution to ensure we are safe here," she said.