Winnipeg faithful celebrate Ramadan with safety in mind

Ramadan  – it is a month-long spiritual observation that happens every year. A time in which Muslims all over the world get together to pray, fast and reflect.In light of recent hate crimes, Muslim organizations in Winnipeg have taken steps to increase security during the holy month, which runs from May 5 – June 4.READ MORE: Ramadan 101: Answering your questions about ‘the best time of the year’
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Shahina Siddiqui, from the Islamic Social Services Association, said safety is very much on the minds of the faithful, since Ramadan began on Monday.While people welcome the spiritual celebration, she said, the increased frequency of attendance at mosque, particularly later into the evening, raises some concern for families.“At the back of our minds is (security), because the mosque is frequented more in Ramadan.“Also we have late-night prayers which can go up to about midnight … a lot of families, children. And so the concern of course, always is security, considering what’s been happening.”READ MORE: Christchurch shooting: 50 killed at 2 mosques, 1 man charged with murderSiddiqui said mosques don’t have the means to hire private security, so they rely on volunteers to keep a watchful eye and be alert to anything out of the ordinary. Meetings were held in advance to help people know what kinds of things to be on the lookout for.Siddiqui said Winnipeg police are also alerted during Ramadan.“They will have cruisers in the area, especially at night.”In the weeks and months leading up to the annual observation, Siddiqui said the Islamic community focuses on raising the awareness, and holds meetings to prepare their security protocols. However, she notes,  no matter how much they do, there will always be concern.“Really, how can you secure a congregation when is it is such a public thing?”Siddiqui said Fridays prayers are a particular concern, being one of the busiest days for prayer services. People are encouraged to use ‘common sense’ rules like staying alert, notifying police if they see something out of place, or at least bring it to the attention of organizers.“I think our major concern is children. Because our prayers are always family prayers right. Children don’t always sit where they are supposed to.”View link »