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What do you get when you invite bikers to a Vaughan mosque? A unique fundraiser

250 motorcycles at event marking 1-year anniversary of Danforth Shooting
August 26, 2019
Simone Joseph

Two sometimes maligned, misunderstood and prejudged forces came together Sunday in Vaughan to raise money for victims of violence, specifically victims of 2018’s Danforth shooting.

Canadian Muslims, alongside Canada's 911 Ride, hosted an event Sunday at Vaughan’s Baitul Islam Mosque.

“We felt it would be powerful if the two organizations worked together,” said event organizer Safwan Choudhry.

This charity event is to mark the one-year anniversary of the Toronto Danforth Shooting, and featured a police-escorted motorcade consisting of 250 motorcycles.

Canada's 911 Ride’s foundation's mission is to host an annual police escorted motorcycle ride to raise funds and awareness of the foundations causes. This includes helping families of fallen emergency service personnel, helping children who were victims of violent crimes, as well as working in conjunction with the Mikey Network to make public defibrillators more readily available to help save lives.

In private conversation, some bikers alluded to the fact that they face suspicion and doubt because of their appearance clothed in biker’s gear such as leather jackets and tattoos, said Choudhry.

“They appreciate how Muslims feel the same level of scrutiny,” Choudhry said. “The two sides understand each other.”

It was also an eye-opening experience for the bikers since few had been to a mosque before. The ceremonial program included a recitation of the Quran. “Over 90 per cent of bikers had never been to a mosque. They left extremely positive,” Choudry said.

Bringing the two groups together forged understanding, according to Choudhry.

“It can bring about the removal of misconceptions,” he said.

The bikers enjoyed their day asking questions, and hanging out with Muslims, Choudhry said. “It’s something they have never in their life experienced before.”

Representatives at the event included OPP, Toronto and York police.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim community helped organize a vigil at their Vaughan mosque and on Danforth after the attack.

Sunday’s event also raised money for other victims of violence including women, children and police officers injured in the line of duty.

Proceeds from the event will be donated to victims of the Danforth shooting.