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One week ago today, a terrible event happened in my country. A crazy gunman entered a mosque in Quebec city and killed six men who were there to peacefully pray. Six fathers, six husbands, six sons. From what is being said about the shooter, it is clear that the attack was premeditate and the Muslim community was the target. The tragic news left me deeply wounded psychologically.

With islamophobia and general intolerance towards "strangers" on the rise in Quebec, the past few years before leaving for the UAE have been quite difficult for me. Even if I was born and raised in the province, since I was wearing the headscarf, I could feel the looks of disapproval, I could hear the disagreeable comments. Many people from Quebec are telling me it's not a racist or islamophobic province, but I think they don't realize how sneaky and sly it actually is. Violence doesn't have to be involved. Even words don't have to be involved. Sometimes, it's just a gaze. Just a sigh.

The culmination of many years of micro-aggressions and hostilities towards the Muslim community is the event of last Sunday. Many of us were not even surprised. So many groups and individuals were openly saying we were not welcome in "their" country, we should "go back to where we are from" or even all die.

And now. Now, the damage is done. Now it's too late to feel sorry. Or maybe not? Al-hamdulillah, by the grace of God, a lot of positive things happened since last week, and I want to believe it is the dawn after darkness. Just to see a smiling Muslim man, described as a hero on the front page of the newspapers is something we've never seen before in Quebec.

So I guess I just wanted to say two things. First: Looks can hurt. Words can hurt. They can also help feed a monster. If you are scared, educate yourself. Fear comes from ignorance. Islam has NOTHING to be scared of. Some Muslims are insane. Some Muslims are deranged. I also know a few other maniacs that are not Muslims. In all cases, I don't think their behaviors have something to do with the faith they are claiming to be part of (or their lack of faith). Islam is perfect. Muslims aren't. So if you want to learn about islam, learn about the teachings. The second thing I wanted to say is: Thank you. Yes, you. Who showed compassion. Who sent good words. Who gave support. Who prayed for me, for my community. Who made an examination of conscience. Who stands up for the right to live for every human being on earth. Who stands up for peace, justice and love.

Salam alaikum. Peace be with you.

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