A Liberal MP says he held both a Bible and a Qur'an at a swearing-in ceremony to express his solidarity with Quebec Muslims.
Marc Miller took the oath on Monday when he was sworn in as parliamentary secretary to Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi.
The ceremony took place one day after a gunman killed six men at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec and injured 19 others.
A 27-year-old university student, Alexandre Bissonnette, has been charged with first-degree murder and attempted murder in connection with the shooting. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the killings "a terrorist act."
— Marc Miller (@MarcMillerVM) January 30, 2017
Miller, the MP for the Montreal riding of Ville-Marie — Le Sud-Ouest — Île-des-Soeurs, said the event was a "deeply personal" moment for him, and his decision to use both holy books was a symbolic gesture.
"I chose to use the Qur'an in solidarity with my Muslim brothers and sisters," he told The Huffington Post Canada.
Miller, who is Protestant, brought his personal Bible and borrowed an annotated Qur'an from the Library of Parliament. He used one book when delivering the English oath and the other for the French version.
"It was quite convenient. The clerk was very accommodating," he said.
Miller said he talked to a number of spiritual leaders in his riding, where he says the Muslim community has been deeply affected by the Quebec City shooting.
Quebecers gather to pay respect to the victims of terror attack at a mosque in Quebec City which left 6 people killed Jan. 30. (Photo: Amru Salahuddien/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
He noted the concerns his Muslim constituents have expressed are not just a result the mosque attack — the debate over the niqab during the last federal election and current U.S. politics have affected them as well.
Miller shared photos of the event on his Facebook and Twitter pages.
And while he said the reception to his gesture has been "99 per cent positive," he added there were some "quite hateful" reactions.
"It's there and it exists in our society and we need to face it," Miller said. "We need to confront it face on."
'We need to reach out'
It's a sentiment that echoes the message Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard delivered Tuesday when he called the province generally an open and accepting society, but admitted it had its "demons."
"Xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here," Couillard said. "We have to acknowledge that and work together.'
For Miller, the priority moving forward is guaranteeing the safety of worshippers at all religious institutions, he said, adding that there was a lot of healing and work to be done.
"We need to understand each other better, we need to reach out and be open," he said.
"My own religion focuses heavily on love, and it's something that we've lost somewhere. I believe if we reach out to our friends of other faiths and try to understand them, we'll do a great job of clearing out the ignorance that exists."
With files from The Canadian Press