Ottawa mosque part of 'Visit a Mosque' campaign after terror attacks in New Zealand

Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa

New Zealand's Prime Minister today vowed never to speak the name of the gunman who committed that country's worst mass shooting and promised to tighten gun laws.

That, as mosques here in Canada launched a nation-wide "visit a mosque" campaign.

The memorial grows outside the doors of this mosque in New Zealand as mourners pay tribute to those killed and injured. A 28-year-old man stands accused of the country's worst terrorist attack; man who will forever remain nameless to New Zealand's Prime Minister.

“He sought many things from his act of terror,” New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said, “but one was notoriety and that is why you will never hear me mention his name. He is a terrorist. He is a criminal. He is an extremist."

Ardern also vowed to strengthen gun laws as gun owners started voluntarily turning in their weapons. Then in a message of solidarity she spoke in Arabic.

“We are one, they are us. Tato, Tato,” she told Parliament.

And that is the message from many Muslims today as mosques across Canada threw open their doors to anyone wanting to visit.

“Frankly speaking we feel very safe here,” says Imam Farhan Iqbal with the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat, a sect in Islamic society that believes in the Messiah.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat is organizing the “Visit a Mosque” campaign with about 8 other mosques across Canada, inviting Canadians in to help dispel myths and build bridges.

“I would say that 99% of people are peaceful but there is that 1%, a group of people on the fringes who do express fear of Islam and this campaign is catered to that group,” Imam Iqbal said.

Islamophobia is a growing concern for many Muslims. Police have reported a dramatic rise of hate crimes across Canada in recent years. This Thursday, the Canadian Labour Congress will join other unions in releasing a report about islamophobia in the workforce.

And so efforts like this "visit a mosque" campaign continue to try to cultivate a mutual sense of understanding and respect.

“We want to convey the message come and look and come and meet us,” said Faheem Affan, the Assistant National Secretary Public Relations with Ahmadiyya Muslim Jamaat Canada, “We are not that bad,” he laughs.

The mosque at 2620 Market Street in Cumberland will be open for visitors from 6:00 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every evening this week with a special event planned for March 23rd at 1:30 p.m. More details are available at www.visitamosque.ca