Pi News –
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.