Trudeau says Canada shaken by ‘brutal and hateful’ attack
Service honours victims of Quebec City attack
MONTREAL — 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 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-year-old father of two, was from Algeria and was a professor at Université 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, co-workers, 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 Québécois 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 full-fledged 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.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right to left) Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume and Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre pay their respects by the caskets of three of the six victims.
A man and his son attend a funeral service for three of the six victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting at the Maurice Richard Arena.