‘Hope and fear’: Que­bec City mosque pres­i­dent re­flects on mas­sacre an­niver­sary

The Miracle - - Quebec`s Special -

Nearly a year after a deadly mass shoot­ing in­side a Que­bec City mosque, Mo­hamed Labidi is weigh­ing an out­pour­ing of sup­port from Cana­di­ans against signs that Is­lam­o­pho­bia con­tin­ues to rise in his com­mu­nity. “My feel­ing is split be­tween hope and fear,” the pres­i­dent of the Que­bec City Is­lamic Cen­tre told CTV News. Six peo­ple were killed and 19 in­jured in the shoot­ing in­side his place of wor­ship on Jan. 29, 2017. Mon­day marks one year since the at­tack. Alexan­dre Bis­son­nette, 27, faces six counts of first-de­gree mur­der and six counts of at­tempted mur­der. His trial is sched­uled to be­gin March 26. Labidi says he hoped the shock­ing act of vi­o­lence would quell long­stand­ing cul­tural di­vi­sions and that hate crimes would fall. Those hopes were dashed. Que­bec City po­lice said hate crimes dou­bled in 2017. Far-right groups like La Meute ap­peared em­bold­ened in the wake of the shoot­ing. Some claimed the at­tack had been blown out of pro­por­tion. Mean­while, a plan to es­tab­lish the area’s first Mus­limowned ceme­tery in the town of Saint-Apol­li­naire was voted down by res­i­dents. “It was very as­ton­ish­ing that you can find one per­son that can say no and stand against a ceme­tery for some­one,” Labidi said. A par­cel of land was found three weeks later, but only after Que­bec City Mayor Regis Labeaume bro­kered a deal for city land. Days after that, Labidi be­came a tar­get. “My own car was burned be­cause I am Mus­lim,” he said. “Still we are re­ceiv­ing mes­sages of ha­tred, mes­sages of re­jec­tion.” In Oc­to­ber, Que­bec’s Na­tional As­sem­bly also in­tro­duced of a con­tro­ver­sial bill that pro­hibits cit­i­zens from re­ceiv­ing or giv­ing pub­lic ser­vices with their faces cov­ered. The leg­is­la­tion was widely crit­i­cized as tar­get­ing Mus­lim women who wear face veils. The pub­lic ral­lies ahead of a judge’s rul­ing that Que­bec can­not force peo­ple to un­cover their faces of­fered, for many, a glimmer of hope that Que­be­cers are will­ing to stand up for the re­li­gious free­doms of Mus­lims. Labidi says that he has enough signs of sup­port over the past year to re­main cau­tiously op­ti­mistic about the fu­ture.“To­gether, we will emerge stronger from this,” he said. “More united then be­fore.” Source: CTV’s Vanessa Lee is Que­bec City and The Cana­dian Press

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