Magazine article Anglican Journal

Multi-Faith Solidarity in Wake of Racist Attacks

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Multi-Faith Solidarity in Wake of Racist Attacks

Article excerpt

It was standing-room-only at a multi-faith solidarity rally in an Ottawa synagogue November 20, following a spate of racist graffiti attacks over six days. Targets included a Jewish prayer centre, a mosque, a church that has a black pastor and two synagogues.

The Congregation Machzikei Hadas in south Ottawa hosted the event two days after its front doors were spray-painted with swastikas and offensive graffiti spray-painted on walls outside the synagogue.

Rabbi Reuven Bulka, the spiritual leader of Congregation Machzikei Hadas, drew sustained applause and a standing ovation when he greeted the more than 600 people present with the words, "Welcome to the real Ottawa," saying those gathered represented "a mosaic of our community."

Because the rally was held on the Jewish Sabbath, cameras and other recording equipment were not allowed inside the synagogue.

Speakers included Premier Kathleen Wynne, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson and Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau, who was applauded when he announced that a youth had been arrested that morning in connection with the attacks. The teen faces several charges, including uttering threats and mischief to religious buildings.

Anglicans were among several religious leaders at the event and included Col. the Rt. Rev. Nigel Shaw, who is the first elected bishop of the Anglican Military Ordinariate, Dean Shane Parker of Ottawa's Christ Church Cathedral, David Selzer, executive archdeacon of the diocese of Ottawa, and some diocesan priests.

Church Cathedral, David Selzer, executive archdeacon of the diocese of Ottawa, and some diocesan priests.

Canon John Wilker-Blakley--ecumenical interfaith officer for Ottawa diocese and president of the Capital Region Interfaith Council (CRIC)--was also at the rally.

The graffiti attacks "are yet more events in a series of hateful things that have been reported especially since the election of Donald Trump as president-elect of the United States," he wrote in a letter published in the Ottawa Citizen November 19.

"This behaviour is abhorrent, but more abhorrent still is that it reveals how much racism, sexism, anti-Semitism, etc. is bubbling just below the surface of our society."

On behalf of the CRIC, Wilker-Blakley expressed "outrage at this behaviour and the attitudes which empower them."

The Anglican Journal asked Wilker-Blakley what Anglicans could do to prevent similar attacks. "The most important thing is to continue to work at education and understanding, and to include within our Prayers of the People our prayers for the mosques and synagogues in the neighbourhood, and try to help people understand how important our common faith is," he said. …

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