There are certain events which bring the best out of a nation. On January 29, an armed individual entered a mosque in Quebec City and indiscriminately opened fire on those offering evening prayers. It was a sad day in Canada and across the globe.

What followed in the next few days was an overwhelming response by Canadians from all over the country. The Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau categorically termed it a terrorist attack. The federal parliament in Ottawa observed silence and collectively paid its respects to those murdered in the attack. The Premier of Quebec, Philippe Couillard, expressed similar emotions and stood by the Muslim community in Quebec. The Premier of Ontario, Kathleen Wynne visited the downtown Toronto mosque. Across the country, Muslims were assured that they should not have any fear in going to their places of worship.

On the evening of Monday, within 24 hours of the attack, a vigil was organised in Quebec City. It was attended by thousands of Quebecers, and those attending were from all religions. They included Whites, Blacks, South Asians, Arabs, Africans, etc. There was no discrimination of colour, race, or religion. Canadians came out to support their Muslim neighbours and assure them of support. Similar vigils, and other events of support, were organised in the next few days across the country.

This outpouring of support has been truly heartening. Most immigrants have been positively surprised at the emotional and political support provided by people of all race and religions. In essence, the Muslims were assured by the federal, provincial, and municipal governments, as well as by people at large, that Muslims are welcome in this country of immigrants. That they appreciate Muslims coming to Canada and making this country their home. That they should not be afraid to visit their places of worship. That as citizens, their love for this country is appreciated, and they should continue to make contributions to this nation.

Canada has always been known as an immigrant friendly country. This incident has solidified its commitment to immigration and diversity. Many a Muslim immigrants are moved by the generosity thus shown. However, now the immigrants should reciprocate this gesture and contribute to the country’s well-being. For example, it is now even more important that Canadian Muslims play a pivotal role in addressing the menace of radicalisation within their communities and cooperate with the law enforcement agencies in ensuring that this disease of extremism is wiped out.

As a Pakistani immigrant to Canada, I feel moved and welcomed. The beauty of multiculturalism and diversity of this country has never been more apparent before. In light of such a response by Canadians, there is much to be learned by other countries. In particular, one hopes that someday in Pakistan, we will be as inclusive towards people practicing religions other than Islam, and the rights of minorities will be respected and their contributions appreciated.