I don’t know about you, but being someone who’s in a constant state of anger against injustices around the world, I could use a little heart-warming sometimes. Oftentimes when I scroll down my Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr feeds, all I see are stories of horrors around the world. “Black teenager shot dead.” “Death toll in Syria.” “Displaced Burmese Muslims.” I could just unfollow these people but I think it’s important to stay informed and to stay angry. Still, it’s easy to get sucked into the ugliness of this world and forget that there is so much good in it too. The residents of Cold Lake, Alberta showed us exactly what community and tolerance means.
The Cold Lake Mosque was vandalized last week with racist slogans and had its windows bashed in. The imam was shocked when he arrived for fajr prayers. His children started crying, wondering why they would be told to “go home” when Canada was their home. That afternoon, dozens of locals gathered to do some good. At first, someone painted over “go home” and changed it to “is home.” This adorable gesture was one-uped by the residents who cleaned the walls, fixed the windows, and hung up signs with messages of love and encouragement like “you are home” and “we are united as Canadians.” A little girl even brought flowers. After they were done, you wouldn’t have believed that anything had happened to the building that morning.
The attack was most likely triggered by an “ISIL-inspired terrorist” in Quebec where two soldiers were run over, killing one and severely injuring the other. It might seem odd that Muslims in Alberta have to pay for the bad deed of one alleged terrorist in Quebec, but that’s how racism and Islamophobia work. One Cold Lake resident said something simple yet so important. “We have to differentiate between extremists and followers of a religion. These people are peaceful.”
This gesture demonstrated what being neighbors was all about. It’s in line with the spirit of Islam and we all ought to learn a thing or two from the wonderful people of Cold Lake.
Insha Allah, the perpetrators are caught and punished for their prejudice.