WATCH: Millions of Muslims around the world attended Friday prayers for the first time since the horrific toll of the attack on two mosques in New Zealand became clear. In Victoria, many went out of their way to show the Muslim community sympathy and support.
Members of Victoria’s Sikh community and others from around Vancouver Island gathered at a Victoria mosque Friday afternoon in a symbolic act of protection of the Muslim community.
“The Human Chain at Masjid Al-Iman” was a public event that started at 12:45 p.m. at 2218 Quadra Street. It ran until 3 p.m. and hundreds showed up to stand in solidarity with the local Muslim community.
During the event, people stood in a line, shoulder to shoulder, starting near the doors of a mosque. Community officials, including Finance Minister Carole James and Victoria Police Chief Del Manak joined the crowd. There was also a sign near the doors that said “You are our friends. We will stand watch while you pray.”
The event comes one week after the mass shootings at two Christchurch, New Zealand mosques on March 15. Fifty people died in the terrorist attack.
“We will be doing this as a show of love and solidarity with our Muslim family and to remind everyone that bigotry will not be tolerated. This human shield will be a physical barrier of protection for those feeling persecuted and vulnerable following the horrors in New Zealand last week,” the organizers wrote on the event’s Facebook page.
The organizers say worshippers will typically start arriving at 1 p.m. for Friday prayers at 1:30 p.m. They are asking people to arrive at 12:45 p.m. to greet the worshippers and remain until the last one leaves.