Faith groups lament for the killed and wounded

November 5, 2014 | God at work in the World | Number 22
By Natasha Brubaker Garrison | Calgary Interfaith Council

We share in the grief and shock our nation is feeling. We honour Corporal Nathan Cirillo and Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, who were killed. Our prayers for comfort and healing are offered for the families of Cirillo and Vincent, those wounded, and those who were the first responders on the scenes. We offer our prayers for the families of Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau.

As we come together as a nation in grief and consider how to move forward, the council stands in solidarity with the Muslim community of Canada. The actions of one or two persons do not define Islam; the extremist expressions of Islam do not accurately represent the faith and those who follow it.

Every faith tradition has those who misuse their religion, and under the cloak of religious justification exploit, dehumanize and kill others. Secular ideologies have done, and continue to do, the same.

Every faith has those whose piety turns into fanaticism. Islam is a faith of surrender and peace; it is a faith grounded in teachings of love. While Zehaf-Bibeau’s and Couture-Rouleau’s connection to Islam appears to have influenced their course of action, it is not because of Islam that they did this.

The vast majority of Muslims follow their faith in kindness, compassion and charity. We must be mindful in this time to not generalize or vilify a faith and people by the actions of a few. We hold hands with our Muslim brothers and sisters with respect, dignity and love.

Our hope is that reason and respect will guide us. We seek understanding to prevent the creation of scapegoats. We recognize the complexity of these situations and that we must avoid generalities that demean and abuse others as we search for answers.

As part of a comprehensive response, may we find the appropriate balance between surveillance of real threats and safeguarding our liberties and rights. May we look deeper at the social realities and structures that contribute to some falling prey to radicalization and violent acts, and work to transform them.

Let us commit to ways that the complicated fabric of our society and its institutions can work better to reach those who are wounded, troubled or disaffected. May peace rule our hearts.

—Posted Nov. 6, 2014

See also: Response to a sad day in Ottawa

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