‘Bru­tal and hate­ful’ at­tack

Trudeau says all of Canada shaken by ‘bru­tal and hate­ful’ at­tack

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Three of six mosque shoot­ing vic­tims laid to rest.

A bru­tal mas­sacre at a Que­bec City mosque has left Canada reel­ing in shock but also uni­fied the coun­try in sol­i­dar­ity with Mus­lims, Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said at a fu­neral ser­vice Thurs­day for three of the six vic­tims.

“It is with a heavy heart that we come to­gether this af­ter­noon to grieve the loss of these in­no­cent lives,” he told the solemn crowd.

“But as a com­mu­nity and as a coun­try, to­gether we will rise from this dark­ness stronger and more uni­fied than ever be­fore — that is who we are.”

Ab­delkrim Has­sane, Khaled Belka­cemi and Aboubaker Thabti were de­voted fathers who worked hard to en­sure their fam­i­lies had a bright fu­ture — a dream Cana­di­ans across the coun­try have known and shared for gen­er­a­tions, Trudeau said.

Sev­eral thou­sand mourn­ers packed the Mau­rice-Richard Arena to pay their re­spects to the three men, whose cas­kets were draped in wreaths and the flags of their home­lands.

Thabti, 44, was a phar­ma­cist of Tu­nisian ori­gin who had three chil­dren; Belka­cemi, a 60-yearold father of two, was from Al­ge­ria and was a pro­fes­sor at Univer­site Laval; and Has­sane, 41, was from Al­ge­ria. He was a father of three and worked in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy for the pro­vin­cial govern­ment.

There were also prayers at the ser­vice for the three other vic­tims — Azzed­dine Soufi­ane, Ma­madou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry.

All six were fathers, “like me, like us,” said Que­bec Premier Philippe Couil­lard. “They were sons and broth­ers and un­cles — like me, like us. Friends, co­work­ers, like us. They were us. They were loved, ap­pre­ci­ated, re­spected, and they al­ways will be. We won’t for­get them.

“I want to tell Mus­lim Que­be­cers: you’re at home here, we are all Que­be­cers,” he said to thun­der­ous ap­plause and cheers.

Mon­treal Mayor Denis Coderre blamed the deaths on “Is­lam­o­pho­bic and racist thoughts” and urged Cana­di­ans to stamp out in­tol­er­ance in their ranks.

“The time has come to en­sure that af­ter these tragic and ter­ri­ble events, that we will com­bat all ex­trem­ism in any form and that we will be there for all cit­i­zens and pro­tect their fun­da­men­tal free­doms — free­dom of re­li­gion and con­science — so that any­one can ful­fil their destiny in safety and se­cu­rity,” he said.

The sup­port shown in the wake of the shoot­ing shows “the Que­be­cois com­mu­nity is a uni­fied com­mu­nity,” said Mo­hamed Yan­gui, pres­i­dent of the Is­lamic Cen­tre of Que­bec, the tar­geted mosque.

But the tragedy has also high­lighted the need for greater un­der­stand­ing of Mus­lims around the world, he said.

“They must un­der­stand that we as Mus­lims, as mod­er­ate Mus­lims, we are not ter­ror­ists,” he said. “We are not the ter­ror­ists. We prac­tise a form of Is­lam...that means we are fullfledged and solid mem­bers of our com­mu­nity.”

Mean­while, Yan­gui told the gather­ing he re­ceived a tele­phone call on Wed­nes­day that one of those crit­i­cally in­jured in the mas­sacre had sup­pos­edly died but was re­vived 15 min­utes later. “Pray for him,” he said. Fa­zle Ah­mad, who waited pa­tiently out­side the hockey arena for the doors to open, said be­fore go­ing in that “this ter­ror­ist act has tar­nished” Canada’s good im­age.

“We want to show that Canada is (like) a big fam­ily ... I hope that we will make our coun­try much bet­ter than be­fore,” said Ah­mad, who works at Mon­treal’s Khadi­jah Cen­tre.

Asma Qureshi and As­sad Khan brought their young chil­dren to the fu­neral, be­liev­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing the com­mu­nity come to­gether would be ben­e­fi­cial to them.

“We also want to show that a few bad ap­ples in the com­mu­nity are not go­ing to bring us apart,” said Qureshi. “And for the kids to see as well that we get to­gether for times like this and how beau­ti­ful this com­mu­nity is and that we’re there for each other.”

The bright light in the tragedy is how Cana­di­ans have re­acted and come to­gether, she said.

An­other cer­e­mony is ex­pected in Que­bec City on Fri­day.

The six vic­tims, aged be­tween 39 and 60, were killed when a gun­man stormed the mosque and opened fire on men who were at­tend­ing prayer. Au­thor­i­ties have re­fused to spec­ify what type of firearm was used in the mass shoot­ing.

Alexan­dre Bis­son­nette, 27, was ar­rested Sun­day night fol­low­ing the mas­sacre in which 19 peo­ple were also wounded, in­clud­ing two who were still in crit­i­cal con­di­tion on Tues­day.

Bis­son­nette has been charged with six counts of first-de­gree mur­der and five of at­tempted mur­der us­ing a re­stricted firearm.

CP PHOTO

A man breaks down next to the cas­kets of three of the six vic­tims of the Que­bec City mosque shoot­ing dur­ing fu­neral ser­vices at the Mau­rice Richard Arena Thurs­day.

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