Thursday February 02, 2017
Tens of thousands of Canadians from all walks of life have rallied in the support of the Muslim Community in the aftermath of the terrorist attack at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City on the night of Sunday January 29.
About 100 Muslims—men, women and children—were gathered for night prayers when the 27-year-old white French-Canadian, Alexandre Bissonette, armed with heavy weapons and wearing a mask entered the mosque.
He opened fire on the 50 men worshipping on the main floor (the women were upstairs and children playing downstairs in the basement). By the time the shooting was over, six Muslims had been murdered in cold blood and 19 others left wounded, eight of them in serious condition.
The victims included Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim (Karim) Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, and brothers Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry.
Khaled Belkacemi was professor of Agricultural Science at Laval University, the same institution where Bissonette was studying anthropology and political science. Azzeddine Soufiane went down in a hail of bullets as he rushed the attacker hoping to wrestle him to the ground.
Funerals for three of the victims are being held today after their bodies were released following completion of police investigation.
Where the shootings and deaths have left the small Muslim community in Quebec City shocked and fearful, the outpouring of sympathy and support from Canadians in big towns and small across the country has given them hope.
Canadians, especially Church groups have reached out to Muslims in their own communities offering sympathy and solidarity. There have been candlelight vigils throughout Canada and marches in support of Muslims and against the French-speaking terrorist and his enablers.
The Quebec City terror attack has put politicians and segments of the media on notice that their Islamophobic rhetoric is directly responsible for this tragedy, the most horrific in Canadian history on a place of worship.
The beleaguered Muslim Community is now waiting to see whether the politicians will go beyond mere expressions of sympathy for Muslims or translate this tragedy into action to deal with the real source of terrorism in Canada: white supremacist groups. Hitherto, Muslims have been vilified when in fact no Muslim in Canada has killed a single individual or attacked any place of worship barring the two converts in October 2014, both mentally deranged.
In the meantime, Muslims take comfort in the fact that the overwhelming majority of Canadians from all walks of life stand shoulder to shoulder with them. This gives them hope and strength. And they express their gratitude for such support.