On Sunday evening, Adey Farah was in Toronto, Canada, telling her friend how generally she and her family, as women of colour and as Muslims use the “at least we’re in Canada” phrase to reassure themselves. On Monday morning, Adey woke up to the news that there had been a fatal shooting in a Quebec City mosque, leaving six dead and others injured. The following piece is her reflection.
Somalia, [the country where my mother’s laugh comes from] its people are banished
from the US on this laughable thing Trump keeps calling an “immigration ban”.
The night of January 29, 2017 I was talking with a friend explaining
that at least we’re in Canada, it isn’t perfect but it’s not Trump’s America.
The morning of January 30, 2017 the first thing I read was that 6 were dead
in Quebec City, Canada, shot in the back of their heads as they prayed at their local mosque.
And I thought immediately of my mother’s laughter, and my two sisters.
The mosque is where we go as a family to connect, laugh, learn and question this faith.
The Ottawa Main Mosque is where my sisters and I learnt to have fun with religion, our friends,
giggle and laugh as the teacher told us we should be paying better attention.
That mosque is where I learnt that Islam meant so much more than the sum of its parts,
that my mom through the Islamic faith has taught me always to stay kind, be kind, be kind.
Long after you’ve stopped praying, and decided wearing a hijab is not
meant for you (maybe not now, maybe not ever – you aren’t sure).
Long after people see you as being only a black woman, and no longer a black Muslim woman,
asking “so you’re not a Muslim anymore”? And you think to yourself, “but am I”?
Then one day you hear, 6 are dead. Shot in the head. As they prayed peacefully.
And I cried.
I messaged my two sisters on the group chat, I’ve titled “MY LADIES”,
and the youngest one said “All I heard was 5 dead from baba. What happened”? And I paused.
I paused to think how can I explain to this 12-year-old that there is an attack,
not only on her faith, her mother’s scarf or her father’s nightly trips to convene at the Mosque.
There is an attack on humanity, on peace, on community, on love and only by coming together
will we make it out alive. I didn’t want to tell her that I’m worried we might not make it out.
So I told her, “A mosque in Quebec City; a shooting. I cried because I thought
what if this had happened in Ottawa. I was so scared. I was so scared”.
She responded by saying, “That’s really sad. That would be really sad if it was in Ottawa. Like it could have been me”
And I cried.
I told her “I don’t want anything to happen to any of you”. And she responded, innocently, said “Don’t worry, we’re safe for now. Heart emoji.” And I thought this is the world isn’t it?
This is the world my little sister knows, one where the threat of not being safe is potentially around every corner. So she says for now, as if one day we might not be safe. One day we might not be safe. One day we might not be safe. One day we might not be safe. One day.
And I cannot tell her, that that day is already here. That day has been here for a long time.
I can tell her that this attack is not on Islam, it’s an attack on all that is good in this world.
So I tell her “I love you, I’m here for you, always. When people hate, it’s because they know less than those who love. Their hate is not your burden to carry, you will never be at fault”.
Today, January 31, 2017 I wrangle my mind knowing it was not the right thing to say.
But what would you have said, if your baby sister told you, “Don’t worry, we’re safe for now”?
Image by Sharese Suriel – www.sharesesuriel.com.