U of S Muslim students shaken after online memorial service interrupted by racism, threats

·2 min read

Muslim students at the University of Saskatchewan say they were horrified when their recent online gathering was hijacked by a group of racists praising Adolf Hitler.

The Zoom ceremony was held on the fourth anniversary of the Quebec mosque shooting, which left six people dead and five others seriously injured.

"The overtness of that hate we see and that Islamophobia was suffocating," said Dr. Joel Schindel, who works with U of S students through the Canadian Muslim Chaplaincy Organization.

"But in a way, when you take a moment to reflect, we've come to a point as Muslims where we're not surprised, which is sad."

Roughly 50 people attended the online ceremony organized by the U of S Muslim Students Association.

University of Saskatchewan Muslim Students Association
University of Saskatchewan Muslim Students Association

As the names of shooting victims were being read, including one man who was shot seven times and is confined to a wheelchair, another voice interrupted, saying, "Shut up. No one cares. Shut up."

Another person then yelled that all Muslims "shall die." Another praised Hitler.

Before they could be blocked from the meeting, someone drew a swastika on the meeting screen.

"It's hard to explain how it feels to be attacked like that and the harassment and the threats that all Muslims should die. It was just so — I can't explain it," Iqra Khan, the association's treasurer, said.

Khan said they wanted to keep the memorial service open to the public, even though they understood the risks. She said she was able to block the unwanted guests. They attempted to return, but she wouldn't let them through.

After a few minutes of stunned silence, the memorial service continued.

Shindel said students contacted him after the meeting for support and advice. He said it's obvious they're shaken, but said they're resilient.

Schindel said this traumatic experience shows why it's more important than ever to combat Islamophobia.

Khan says police have been called and she's confident they'll catch the people responsible.