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Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

A human chain surrounded Victoria’s Masjid Al-Iman mosque Friday, a show of support for the Muslim community inside holding Friday prayer.

RELATED: Mass shootings at New Zealand mosques kill 49; 1 man charged

In light of the recent mosque shootings in New Zealand, Victoria’s Sikh community invited Islanders to join them in forming a protective human chain “as a show of love and solidarity with our Muslim family and to remind everyone that bigotry will not be tolerated.”

“We understand this community’s pain. The same thing happened to us in 2012 in Wisconsin,” said Boota Singh, a member of Victoria’s Sikh community. “We understand how you feel when you lose someone you love. That’s why we planned to do this human chain – to show our support to the local Muslim community.”

“We are really surprised that not only Sikhs but Christians, Jewish people…everybody is here. It’s pretty impressive. We are so happy.”

RELATED: Candlelight vigil held in Victoria to honour victims of New Zealand mosque shootings

Members of the public began to gather shortly before 1 p.m. when worshippers were arriving for prayer at Masjid Al-Iman on Quadra Street.

Community leaders, the chief of police and people of all ages and religions linked arms in solidarity and circled the mosque to ensure the local Muslim community could worship in safety. Emotion was high as worshippers passed into the mosque, and back out again two hours later.

READ MORE: Protective human chain to form around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

The mosque’s imam, Ismail Mohamed Nur, addressed the crowd after worship.

“When we were first initially told that people within the community wanted to come and show their support I had no idea that so many of you would actually show up,” said Mohamed Nur. “It means a lot to our community. It is at difficult times that you really know who your friends are and it makes us really happy to see that we have so many friends here in Victoria.”

Members of the mosque shared food and water with the crowd, taking time to connect with the hundreds who stood guard while they prayed.

“I think it’s really important that we all stand together as a community when we are dealing with racism, Islamophobia, hatred,” said Carole James, MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill. “I think the fact that you are seeing so many people here today, joining together to say, ‘We stand with you. We won’t allow it. We say no to racism. We say no to hatred.’ I think our community is showing that in a very important way.”

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Keri Coles

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Keri Coles

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