Sunday nightâ€™s shooting at a Quebec City mosque that killed six people and injured eight others struck a nerve for Saad Abbasi.
â€œI just thought about my parents and just some friends and family friends and who could be afflicted by something like this,â€ said Abbasi, who is from Montreal and now lives in Regina.
Abbasi said that while Quebec has experienced an increase in Islamaphobia in recent years, he couldnâ€™t recall an incident where Muslims were killed in their place of worship in North America.
â€œThat right away made me feel very unsafe, and not just for Muslims, but I think for people of all different denominations,â€ said Abbasi.
Mosques across Canada belonging to the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, including Reginaâ€™s Mahmood Mosque, are taking extra security precautions in the wake of the attack.
â€œThis is something that unfortunately we donâ€™t want to do because our mosques are open to everybody, but due to the severe circumstances at the moment we are establishing stricter security policies,â€ said Zeeshan Ahmed, who is an imam at the mosque.
After it received a call from a concerned member of one local mosque, the Regina Police Service gave assurances that it is keeping the local Islamic community in mind. During a press conference Monday, the RPS said it would be increasing patrols in areas surrounding mosques within the city. The RPS cultural diversity unit will also be reaching out to mosques.
â€œThere isnâ€™t an indication of an elevated threat, but it is important for people to know that weâ€™re here and available,â€ said RPS spokeswoman Elizabeth Popowich.
After hearing the news, Abbasi contacted his friend Faycal Haggui and the two organized a vigil in Victoria Park at 6 p.m. on Monday to show solidarity with Muslims in Quebec.
â€œQuebec has a pretty large Muslim population, and so we donâ€™t want them to feel any more marginalized given the events in the world and given whatâ€™s happening down south in the U.S.,â€ said Abbasi.
Haggui is from North Africa, and has lived in Saskatchewan since 1998. Like many, he was shook when he heard the news of the shooting.
â€œI kind of tried to understand what happened, and then became seriously worried about myself, and my community and my kids. Usually it happens somewhere else, and you never think that it could happen in Canada here,â€ said Haggui.
Fatima Rafat, a committee member with the Islamic Association of Saskatchewan (IAS), called the attack â€œmind boggling.â€
â€œWe always knew we were the target, but this is like becoming a reality in its worst form,â€ said Rafat, who lives in Regina and works fort a non-profit organization.
Rafat said the prejudiced views that are becoming more prevalent against Muslims around the world is something even Muslims in Saskatchewan have in the back of their minds.
â€œI go to yoga and Iâ€™m now thinking â€˜Should I wear my head piece when I go to yoga?â€™ Like this is how crazy it is,â€ said Rafat, who immigrated to Saskatchewan from Pakistan 10 years ago.
Rafat said people have been leaving flowers in front of the IAS mosque at 3273 Montague St. She said the unity seen in the community is heartwarming, but lamented that it took six lives to bring people together.
â€œWe watched the American elections very closely, and it was scary for us. We knew it was not going to be the same world that we are living in post Nov. 21, we knew that, but I think we didnâ€™t expect it would unfold so fast and so drastically,â€ said Rafat.
Haggui said a mosque is a place people should feel safe, and that he wanted to organized the vigil because of how many people would be impacted by the shooting.
â€œI think the people creating this kind of violence are a minority in Canada and we should stand united, so thatâ€™s the message,â€ said Haggui.