Monday, January 30, 2017
Quebec mosque shooting: Montreal Muslims express grief, yet call for respect, love
As they walked in to say their morning prayers Monday, Muslims who strode up the steps of the Islamic Centre of Quebec in St-Laurent stared briefly at the journalists and police cars that had shown up outside the mosque before sunrise. And when those prayers were done, those who were willing to speak expressed their grief and anger over a terrorist attack Sunday night in a Quebec City mosque that left six dead and five in critical condition.
Abdel Majid Sharif said, “It was very painful, it hurt me. The mighty Lord teaches us to respect each other, to love each other. To live in harmony. … Whatever country, whatever religion, we’re all the creation of the Lord.”
Sharif said he’s been worshiping at the centre for almost 40 years and that he’s never experienced any problems because of his faith. “But my daughter-in-law, my sister-in-law, they’ve had problems.” And, now after 40 years, Sharif he said he does feel less safe in the wake of the attack.
“There are some people in the world who don’t know the value of a human being or the value of religion. All religions teach us to thank the Lord. Jews do it in their way, Christians in their way, Hindus in their way. We’re all one family. We must respect each other, love each other.”
A vigil was planned for 6 p.m. outside Parc métro station in Montreal.
Salam Elmenyawi, head of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said Sunday’s attack had left him “shocked, in total disbelief.”
He said in the hours after the attack he contacted other local Muslim community leaders to try and work out a plan to support the families of those slain in Quebec City.
Elmenyawi also said that concerns were expressed over the safety of Muslims living in this city, as well.
“We spoke with the police and we’ll be speaking with them again,” he said. “We’re thankful that (the police) are going around checking on the mosques and also on schools and daycares … Some people are frightened for their children, that’s for sure.”
He added that mosques would be examining their own security to see what could be improved.
Elmenyawi acknowledged that he was concerned that one of the two suspects in the killings had been unofficially identified as Mohamed Khadir.
“I would have wished that this had nothing to do with any Muslim names or any Muslims whatsoever,” he said. “This is a crime, it doesn’t matter who did it. We have to put fingers on the motive of this issue. And we have to remember that the victims were Muslims.
“People are saying that all terrorists are Muslims, but the fact is that most of the victims are Muslims.”
On Monday morning, Quebec’s Human Rights Commission expressed its sympathy to the victims of the attack and their families.
“This terrible attack that targeted people on the basis of their religion is completely unacceptable in our society,” Commission interim-president Camil Picard said in a communique. “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects everyone and guarantees their right to equality, their right to security and their right to dignity. The commission strongly condemns any resort to violence.”
The commission also reiterated the importance of awareness and education when it came to human rights in the context of acts of hatred and expressions of intolerance, noting Quebec “must make more efforts toward the integration and inclusion of all its citizens.”
Two suspects were arrested Sunday night — one near the Centre culturel islamique de Québec where the shooting occurred, and another near Île d’Orléans, east of Quebec City. However, police said on Monday that one of the men arrested was no longer considered a suspect.
Up to 18 people were injured in the attack, and five were in critical condition. There were 39 people at the mosque who were not injured. The victims ranged in age from 35 to 60, police said.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs — Quebec (CIJA-Quebec) issued a statement Monday morning that said: “The Jewish community is horrified by the murderous shooting at the Sainte-Foy mosque. Nothing justifies the murder of innocent civilians assembled in a place of worship.”
Security around Montreal and Quebec City mosques has intensified, police said. A task force made up of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Sûreté du Québec, Montreal police and Quebec City police has been created to investigate the attack.
Inside the St-Laurent mosque, a man who didn’t wish to be identified said he was saddened by the news. “Yesterday the Muslim community of Quebec was wounded. … Every Muslim, every Quebecer, anyone of any religion has been affected by this. This is something that shouldn’t happen in Quebec.”
Nor did he think the debate raging in the United States over a Muslim ban might have played a role in yesterday’s events.
“There will always be people ready to pour oil on the fire, but we’ve never had any problems here. There are a lot of non-Muslims who visit the centre. We’ve never felt unsafe. This isn’t some other country, this is Quebec.”
However, Abdel Wahab wondered if the shootings were linked to the rising rhetoric — particularly in the United States — over Islam and those who practise it.
“I hope this isn’t some boomerang effect from American President (Donald) Trump,” he said, referring to the U.S. ban on refugees from seven Muslim nations issued Friday. “I hope that it stops with this, that it’s just an isolated incident.”
For Khalil Merabet, news of the carnage in Quebec City was tempered by the reaction to it by Canada’s politicians.
“We’re happy that (Montreal Mayor Denis) Coderre, (Quebec Premier Philippe) Couillard and (Quebec City Mayor Régis) Labeaume and (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau are on our side, that, in itself is a relief,” he said. “We can’t control what happened (in Quebec City), but we can all of us be against it.”
At a press conference early Monday morning, Couillard said he was “horrified” by the attack.
Addressing Quebec’s Muslim population, he said: “We are with you, you are at home, you are welcome at home, we are all Quebecers. Together, we must continue to build a society that’s open, welcoming and peaceful.”
Labeaume said: “I want to tell them we love them.”
Couillard also did not hesitate to call the shooting an act of terrorism.“We’ll soon know how organized it was, how long ago and by whom, but the fact that it’s an organized attack on a specific community, I think anywhere in the world it would qualify as a terrorist attack,” he said.
Can you believe this Bullshit? Quebec city has only had five murders in the last six years.