Windsor Ahmadi Muslims hold prayers in solidarity with victims of Burkina Faso attack

People pray during an event to remember victims of an attack on Ahmadi Muslims in Burkina Faso. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)
People pray during an event to remember victims of an attack on Ahmadi Muslims in Burkina Faso. (Mike Evans/CBC - image credit)

Ahmadi Muslims in Windsor gathered Friday to pray and reflect in solidarity after an attack at a mosque in Burkina Faso killed nine people.

The attack in the landlocked west African country happened when people were at their local mosque in Mehdi Abad.

"Nine members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community were brutally executed in an unprovoked and cold-blooded terrorist attack," Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at Canada said in a news release.

"The terrorists separated nine of the elder men, including the Imam of the mosque, from the other worshippers and forced them outside of the mosque where they were killed."

Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at is a sect of Islam which spans 200 countries and has millions of adherents.

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

"This was something that was very hard for us to swallow. Members are grieving at the moment, going through a very difficult time," said Imam Zeeshan Ahmed of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Jama'at in Windsor. The prayers happened at Baitul Ehsaan Mosque.

"This is something that is very sad for them."

The news comes amid a time of strife in the west African country.

Burkina Faso is battling a rampant insurgency with links to al Qaeda and Islamic State. Jihadists have occupied territory in the country's arid and mainly rural north, executing hundreds of villagers and displacing thousands more in the process.

They have also blockaded certain areas in recent months, leaving trapped citizens with acute food shortages.

The United Nations says the insurgency has killed thousands and forced more than 2.7 million people to flee their homes over the past decade.

In Windsor-Essex, the community has offered thoughts and condolences, and Ahmed said mosque members are thankful.

Mike Evans/CBC
Mike Evans/CBC

"It gives us a sense how closely knitted we are as a region and as a community," he said.

He also said the threat of violence is something members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim faith have had to deal with before.

"We are persecuted community," he said, "and we were fortunate that we found a country like Canada to call our home."

"The Canadian government is working on speaking to the authorities in Burkina Faso and that is highly appreciated in regards to reaching out to them, making it public, and raising an issue that is not just something for Canada, but it's an international humanitarian issue," he said.

"And it's something that we as Canadians, we stand by. We look after humanity. And I think these are values and principles that have been reiterated by Canada over and over again."