Kelowna Islamic community opens its arms and mosque to the public
With the New Zealand attack from 10 days ago still fresh in the minds of the world, the Kelowna Muslim community opened its doors and its arms to supporters on Saturday.
Those supporters showed up in strong numbers.
Women, children, families and representatives from other denominations were there to show their support and learn.
Sharmaine Holtam was one of them. She admits she knows very little about the Muslim faith, but says she’s learning.
“I know they’re very forgiving. They’re very all inclusive,” Holtam said.
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The city of Kelowna was represented by councillors Gail Given and Loyal Woolridge.
MLA Norm Letnick also had words of support. Even the RCMP showed up.
But one speaker who delivered one the most powerful messages was Reverend Trevor Fisher of Lake Country. He’s originally from New Zealand and says the massacre in his home country shows that hate has no borders.
“If it could happen in New Zealand, it can happen in Kelowna, it can happen in Lake Country,” said Fisher.
“It can happen anywhere where there is enough hate.”
“And it doesn’t have to reside in a group; it can be just one person.”
Roughly 80 people showed up at Saturday’s event — just a fraction of the support the local Muslim community has received in recent days.
“We got tons of flowers, a lot of emails, a lot of phone calls, a lot of messages coming in expressing support,” said Steve Shoranick, president of the B.C. Muslim Association. “People are even dropping by to say: ‘You belong.’ It’s incredible.”