(Photos: Kelly Roche/QEW South Post)
BY KELLY ROCHE
One hundred Mississaugans gathered to show support for Paris in the wake of Friday’s terror attack causing the most deaths in France since the Second World War.
French Consul General Marc Trouyet said he was shocked by what he saw and heard; 129 people were killed with another 352 injured. ISIS has claimed responsibility.
“To stand here among you – having a living proof of your presence, your solidarity – is absolutely dear to our hearts … the whole world is standing with us,” said Trouyet.
By preying on innocent people who were out having dinner, attending a soccer game, and enjoying music, “those terrorists are targeting our way of life,” said Trouyet, adding “we are resolute to combat these terrorists and to defeat them, wherever they are.”
Blue, white, and red taper candles were lit by politicians as the modest crowd looked on and the French national anthem played.
A few attendees carried signs, including one boy sending a simple message: Pray for Paris.
Residents took the opportunity to reflect and share their disbelief.
Moutaz Abu Kalan lives in the Square One area and said his family has only been in Canada for three months.
“We came to condemn what happened,” said Abu Kalan, who is from Syria.
“ISIS is the devil of the world.”
Brittany Silvestri of Streetsville said she wanted to attend since “any opportunity we have to stand united is definitely a cause that needs to be taken up.”
Silvestri, a lawyer, said she was helping someone buy their first home when word of the attack came in Friday.
“It was so tragic to be in the position I was in, with someone that was super excited and trying to get financing, and then in the next minute it came across my news feed … it was like, ‘that can’t be real’,” she said.
What was real is a suspected retaliatory hate crime in Peterborough.
Police there said the Masjid Al-Salaam Mosque was deliberately set on fire Saturday night. No injuries were reported and damage is estimated at $80,000.
The incident prompted the Mississauga-based Muslim Association of Canada to release a statement urging tolerance and understanding.
“In difficult times like these, there are often isolated incidents perpetrated by individuals that seek to exploit global events and divide Canadians,” reads the statement issued today.
“It is exactly this type of behavior that extremist groups seek to provoke.”
Tensions are high as Canadians await official word from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau regarding two matters: Ending Canada’s combat role in Iraq and Syria, and following through on a campaign promise to take in 25,000 Syrian refugees by Jan. 1, 2016.
Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale said the federal government will take appropriate action to counter any threats.
“Canadians can be assured that when the security and intelligence sector receives credible warnings on a specific threat, they work with the appropriate partners to ensure the safety of Canadians,” said Goodale on Saturday.
“While Canada’s threat level remains unchanged, we are being extra vigilant in Canada as we continue to monitor the situation in Paris very closely.”
Mayor Bonnie Crombie said the events “have shaken us, but they will not break us.”
Her sentiment was echoed by Mississauga-Streetsville MP Gagan Sikand.
“As long as we stand together, those terrorists will not win,” Sikand said.
The Eiffel Tower was projected onto City Hall’s clock tower as a display of unity.