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Seven years after deadly mosque attack, Quebec City community focused on fostering harmony Pi News


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Seven years after a gunman opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Center in Quebec City’s St. Foy neighborhood, six people were killed, Boufeldja Benabdallah said he is still overcome with emotion.

Benabdallah, the mosque’s co-founder, calls the men his brothers.

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Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khalid Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Abubaker Thabti died shortly after 20:00 on January 29, 2017, after evening prayers. 17 children were left without a father and 19 others were injured in the attack.

They were brutally killed and left their families,” said Benabdallah. – Children who were very young have now become teenagers.


At a press conference in Quebec City on Thursday, Benabdallah, along with members of a citizens’ committee dedicated to remembering the victims, said Monday night would be the second year in a row that a memorial and reception will be held at the mosque. starts at 18:00

There will also be a national commemoration of the Quebec City mosque attack and the movement against Islamophobia. online in English and French.

Crowd outside.  Someone holds up a sign "diversity is our strength."
The city of Victoria and the Muslim community held a vigil on January 31 to commemorate the victims of the 2017 Quebec City mosque shooting. Seven years later, the Quebec mosque is holding a ceremony open to the public and hopes to continue the work. limit intolerance. (Chad Hipolitio/CP)

The president of the Islamic Center, Mohammad Labidi, said that this will be another opportunity to work on strengthening “harmony”.

“It’s very, very difficult to do this every year, but we owe it to our brother[s]- said Labidiy.

“Every year to remember and learn from this incident [a] a society without discrimination, racism, and Islamophobia.”

VIEW | Mohammad Labidi said that Azzedine Sufian died heroically:

Mohamed Labidi Azzeddine Soufiane describes how he tried to shoot up a mosque in Quebec City.

Mohamed Labidi Azzedine Sufiane describes how he tried to contain the shooting at the site of the Quebec City mosque attack.

Working on inclusion

Labidi says he has seen some improvement in recent years toward a more tolerant and inclusive society.

“Since the first celebration, we have worked hard to increase coexistence efforts,” Labidi said. “So with that theme in mind, we’re commemorating the end of racism.”

A collage of six men's photos.
Clockwise from left, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Azzeddine Sufian, Abdelkrim Hassane, Ibrahima Barry, Abubaker Thabti and Khalid Belkacemi. They were killed on January 29, 2017 when a gunman opened fire. (CBC)

Benabdallah said the anniversary is also a time to commemorate “the birth of a great intercommunal solidarity movement” among the city’s residents. He said he still remembers the support the mosque provided after the attack.

“We will never forget this generosity,” said Benabdallah, stopping to hold back tears.

“We have to remember that in our community, in Quebec and Canadian society, there is well… Islamophobia and racism. [present] part of the population.”

Melina Chasles, a member of the Citizens’ Committee to Remembrance the Victims, said the conversation about Islamophobia in Quebec needs to happen more often.

“This type of discrimination is a problem … it’s part of everyday life,” Chasles said.

“It’s not something we have to be silent about once a year to deal with. It involves breaking the silence afterwards.”

VIEW | Muhammad Labidi said that the mosque was renovated with security in mind:

See a newly renovated Quebec mosque that will make worshipers safer and help them “turn the page.”

The former president of the Center for Islamic Culture inspects the newly renovated mosque, the site of a deadly attack five years ago.

Creating spaces to “increase the space”.

Ahmadiyya Muslim Community imam and missionary Raza Shah said the attack on the mosque was a stark reminder of where hatred and ignorance can lead. Shah, who is based in Montreal, says he was in Quebec City at the time of the attack.

“The day after the attack was very cold. I think it was at least -30 degrees and there were thousands of people at the vigil,” Shah said. “It shows that there are so many people who support each other and … want to live in peace and harmony.”

Aerial shot of thousands of people sitting on the floor in front of three caskets.
The families of Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanu Barry and Azzedine Sufian sit in front of their caskets at their funeral, surrounded by thousands of people. (CBC)

Earlier this month, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community launched a new campaign called “Coffee and Islam” to promote dialogue between the communities. Shah said he hoped it would help “bridge the gap”.

“We believe in understanding, but we also believe in understanding,” Shah said.

“A lot of intolerance, I think, comes from ignorance, right. It comes from a lot of people not talking to a Muslim. They’ve never met a Muslim.”

An edition of this national campaign was recently held in Montreal. He said dozens of mosques in cities including Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Windsor and Hamilton will participate. According to him, they are preparing for events in Quebec City for February.

“We need to create spaces where we can talk about these things, because that’s the only way to get hate out of people’s minds,” Shah said. “And we already know the result of hatred.

A man shows a bullet that hit a pillar of a building.
A bullet hit a pillar inside a Quebec City mosque, killing six people. (Alice Cliche/Radio-Canada)

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