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‘No more politicians welcome in our mosque’: White Rock group amid Gaza crisis

Global Peace Alliance BC Society, White Rock Muslim Association and others protest outside MP office
A protest was held outside South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s constituency office to call on her to support a ceasefire in Gaza. (Sobia Moman photo)

Politicians are being told they are no longer welcome at the White Rock Muslim Association’s mosque, as members say they feel they are not being heard by their representatives when it comes to the crisis unfolding in Gaza.

“Thousands of kids every day are dying. Every 10 minutes one child dies,” said association chair Asad Syed, who was one of at least 50 people protesting outside South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s office on Monday (Nov. 20) afternoon.

“Our demand is very simple: we want a ceasefire.”

After an attack launched by Hamas militants on Oct. 7 that killed about 1,200 people in Israel and led to another approximately 240 people being taken hostage, according to Israel’s government, Israel declared war on Hamas.

Since the attack, the Israeli military has dropped bombs on Gaza killing more than 13,000 people – including at least 5,000 children – according to information from the Gaza Health Ministry. At least two-thirds of the deaths have been women and children.

Following Oct. 7, many politicians around the world have reiterated their support of Israel’s right to defend itself, while many organizations, including the United Nations, and some politicians have called for a ceasefire.

Protesters outside Findlay’s office said they would like to see their own representatives, local and federal, to do the same.

“What we’re doing is going to all of the MPs and have them stand for peace, have them vote for a ceasefire, because Canada has pretty much been following what the United States is doing and just say stop for humanitarian aid for a few days,” said Niovi Patsicakis, president of the Global Peace Alliance BC Society, another group that attended the protest on Monday.

“That’s not what we want, we want total peace, we want a ceasefire. The bombing and killing of innocent civilians has to stop.”

A protester outside the South Surrey-White Rock MP Kerry-Lynne Findlay’s constituency office holds a Palestinian flag, part of the groups calling on Findlay to support a ceasefire in Gaza. (Sobia Moman photo)

While a four-day pause in fighting – and a deal to release some hostages and individuals held in prisons in Gaza and Israel – has now been reached, the protestors are calling for a permanent ceasefire.

RELATED: Truce-for-hostages deal set to bring 4-day pause to Gaza conflict

The groups said they informed Findlay’s office that they would be protesting on that day and time. The office was closed at the time of the protest, at 3 p.m., but was supposed to close at 4 p.m., according to the office hours listed online.

“Millions of people are out on the streets. We have never seen this kind of peace movement. What Hamas did was awful but this continued killing is just horrific,” Patsicakis said.

“If this continues, this is going to set a precedent. It’s almost like we’re losing our humanity, that life does not matter,” she said.

Members of the White Rock Muslim Association said that they have been calling their MPs, MLAs and city mayors and councillors, urging them to call for a ceasefire. They have also tried to set up a meeting with Findlay so their concerns can be heard, but the association says those requests have either been declined or ignored.

Findlay has so far not responded to a request for comment from Peace Arch News.

On Oct. 12, five mosques, including the White Rock association, sent out a letter criticising all politicians in Canada for their “one-sided” statements on Israel and Palestine. The other mosques consist of the Abubakr Islamic Centre, Fiji Islamic Society of Canada, Fleetwood Islamic Academy Society of BC and Guildford Islamic Cultural Center, all in Surrey.

“True leadership from around the world has been absent. You are complicit in the denial of Palestinian statehood,” the groups wrote.

“What it tells us, your Muslim citizens, is Muslim lives do not matter. This further puts our children and families at risk here at home.”

The groups also refer to Israel as an apartheid state, which it has been classified as such by several human rights organizations, including Amnesty International.


Syed said that no one responded to the letter.

ALSO READ: Surrey students hold ‘Free Palestine’ protest, call for ceasefire in Gaza

One member of the mosque who lives in the Semiahmoo Peninsula has lost a few family members in Gaza, Syed said, while some others still have family living there.

“They hear bad news all of the time,” Syed said.

“It’s very disheartening when you see the bodies with blood, the children, it’s very hurtful. It is very depressing for the community and not just the Muslim community, for everyone. Everyone is hurting.”

The community feels as though they are not being heard by the politicians that represent them, he added, which is why the group now has a new policy: no politicians are welcome in their mosque.

“We are good friends with the politicians, we always invite them but at the time when we need them, they are not there. This is disheartening,” Syed said, adding that the group marked the opening of its new mosque location recently, but did not invite any local dignitaries, as they usually would have.

“We will remember this time when we cast our votes again.”

Another protester from the mosque, Sabinah Rafiq, said that Findlay and many other politicians were quick to show sympathy for Israeli lives lost but have not acknowledged the killing of Palestinians.

“I feel like people are grouping all Palestinians in with Hamas and, I mean, how can you say that? Of the thousands that have been killed, the average age is five years old. So, how can you say that when it’s mostly children being killed?” she asks.

No Surrey representatives have to this point signed an open letter from B.C. municipal politicians calling for a ceasefire, but Couns. Harry Bains and Linda Annis both called for a ceasefire at Monday’s council meeting, after it was disrupted by protesters. In White Rock, meanwhile, Couns. David Chesney, Elaine Cheung and Michele Partridge have penned their names to the letter.

First published Nov. 14, the letter had received 76 signatures as of Wednesday morning (Nov. 22).

- with files from Associated Press and Canadian Press

Sobia Moman

About the Author: Sobia Moman

Sobia Moman is a news and features reporter with the Peace Arch News.
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