Trudeau says Canada shaken by ‘bru­tal and hate­ful’ at­tack

Ser­vice hon­ours vic­tims of Que­bec City at­tack

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - SIDHARTHA BANERJEE

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.

PAUL CHIASSON, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

PAUL CHIASSON, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

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.

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