The call to prayer echoed across northeast Calgary early Friday afternoon as hundreds gathered into a large Calgary mosque. The building was wall-to-wall with worshippers, some spilling outside the doors and praying on the pavement.
The hearts and minds of many in attendance were thousands of kilometres away, entrapped in the turmoil that has devastated two north African countries whose citizens are predominately Muslim.
“It’s so sad, so many of us are impacted by this in one way or another, everyday we are learning about more people who have died,” said Tasnim Fellah, whose cousins lost their entire families in the flooding disaster.
“Kids, whole families, tribes, generations just wiped out, it’s devastating there’s no other word for it.”
As of Friday, the Red Cross confirmed 11,300 people have died after a fierce storm battered the eastern coast of Libya causing two dams to burst.
“Of course there is the climate change element but two dams were totally destroyed and that’s because, for 20 years, they haven’t been maintained because of the government. It’s very sad it could have been avoided,” said Fellah.
In many cases, dozens of people from the same extended family perished.
“Families live side-by- side. They live in the same buildings so when you ask ‘Oh, where’s this street?,’ you’re saying it by the last name of the family so entire generations have been wiped out.”
Calgary’s Muslim community is pulling together to raise money for the enormous recovery effort on the ground in both Morocco and Libya.
“It’s absolutely huge, the need in that part of the world,” said Omar El-Hajjar, Chairman of Muslim Council of Calgary. “We’ve seen probably, the last that I’ve heard, is (damage) in the billions of dollars.
“Definitely we need the world coming together for this kind of calamity however every dollar counts, this is what we tell our congregation,” said El-Hajjar
A special prayer is being offered for those who lost their lives. This weekend, the community will be offering its condolences to the Calgary families now in mourning.
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