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Ottawa shooting: Muslim groups fear angry response from public

10/23/2014 01:41 EDT | Updated 12/23/2014 05:59 EST
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Muslim-Canadian groups are worried about a potential backlash from citizens upset with two deadly attacks this week, but they hope communities come together to promote safety and security.

One man described as a recent Muslim convert shot and killed a reservist who stood guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday before going to Parliament Hill and reportedly unloading more shots.

This came two days after another man struck and killed a Canadian Forces member with a vehicle.

The shooter, 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was then shot and killed in the Centre Block.

Four members of a coalition of Canadian Muslim organizations will speak in Ottawa on Thursday afternoon regarding the shooting. CBCNews.ca will carry the news conference live.

On CBC Radio’s Ottawa Morning, one Ottawa Imam said he worried the incident, one unlike any other that’s happened in Ottawa before, would change the city and its residents’ attitudes.

​"It definitely feels very different. It’s actually making me feel very sad,​" said Imam Sikander Hashmi from the Kanata Muslim Association.

​"I hope we are not going to change too much as far as our safety is concerned and as far as our freedom is concerned, but our safety was affected.​"

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau sent out a letter that encouraged building the relationships between ethnic groups over breaking them. He also said police are aware of potential concerns for Muslim groups.

​"This is about one individual who committed a despicable act," Bordeleau said, "I want to reassure (groups) should there be any backlash that they notify us …. We are there to continue to support them."

Muslims angry after shooting

Also on Wednesday night, a group of Ottawa Imams met to discuss the community response to the shooting. Hashmi said the mood was sombre, and the meeting was dominated by mixed emotions.

"There was a lot of unanimous sadness around the table as well as disbelief and perhaps even some anger. I am definitely feeling angry,” he said. “There is some concern regarding how people are going to react to something like this."

"Sometimes people react emotionally, and sometimes I think the fear is that a Muslim person could be at the receiving end of that anger."

Hashmi called the shooting a "brazen attempt" to attack Canadians and Canada and an attempt to "instill fear and divisions within us."

But he said everybody, no matter what religion, wants to do whatever they can to keep Canada safe.

Also on Wednesday, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama’at Canada condemned the attack on Parliament Hill and the one in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec.

"These acts of terror have no basis in any religion," the statement read. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the deceased, and we offer our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the soldier who gave his life."

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