Quebec religious groups have mixed reactions to latest gathering guidelines

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By Olivia O’Malley Global News
Posted January 26, 2021


Feeding the poor and needy is an act that draws us closer to Allah. We earn His forgiveness, mercies and blessings through this act of charity.

“Anyone who looks after and works for a widow and a poor person is like a warrior fighting for Allah?s cause, or like a person who fasts during the day and prays all night. (Bukhari)

After places of worship were forced to shut their doors earlier this month, the government changed its tune Friday, allowing indoor gatherings of up to 10 people.

The move has garnered mixed reaction and interpretation from religious groups in Quebec.

“As religious leaders for any religion I think God is everywhere, so we have to adapt according to the situation which we are,” said Ahmadiyya Mosque Imam Nabil Ahmad.

The Ahmadiyya Mosque in Montreal North hosts prayers five times a day. Worshippers bring their own mat and mask, and must register ahead of time to secure a spot.

“Right now as (per) the guidelines of Quebec we have a total of 10 people that can come pray, so not above that,” Ahmad said.

The Anglican Church is choosing to continue broadcasting their masses online, prioritizing the safety of its community.

“We have established fairly careful protocols and over the time, most of our parishes have adapted and are able to meet online and so we haven’t felt that it was necessary or worth the risk to meet in that sized group,” said Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson of the Anglican Diocese of Montreal.

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church will still publish masses online but its also opening church doors to the public. The Catholic Archbishop of Montreal Christian Lépine welcomed the guidelines even though they are rather small.

“The fact of being able to receive up to 10 people for a celebration is something very positive encouraging, because it means we can open the church,” he said.

While most religious leader say the guidelines are straight forward, others were clearly confused.

READ MORE: Multiple changes to religious gathering directions create confusion for Outremont Hasidic community

Police say they broke up more than 10 illegal activities in the Hasidic Jewish community this past weekend.

SPVM Deputy Director Simonetta Barth said more than 223 people were identified for not complying with the decree and police are launching an investigation into multiple members of the Hasidic community for allegedly assaulting officers, after officers broke up prayers last Friday night.

But Hasidic community members blame a flip-flop in public health guidelines for the mishap. They received three separate directives from public health officials in three days, each email listed different directives.

Despite the confusion, Quebec Premier François Legault told reporters Tuesday no one is exempt from public health measures.

“What happened last weekend we may look at the confusion but now its very clear and what I saw was that they were more than 30,” he said.

A spokesperson from the Hasidic community told Global News it is still pondering the best ways to pray and observe the law before Shabbat prayers this coming Friday.


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