Six Muslims Killed in a “Terrorist Attack” in Quebec City

News 30 January, 2017

(Quebec) The horror still strikes, at our doors this time. Two assailants, including one of Moroccan origin, broke into a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday evening, killing six people and wounding eight people among the fifty faithful gathered for evening prayers.

Since Sunday, Muslim places of worship, from one end of the country to the other, have been closely monitored by the police, Prime Minister Philippe Couillard . In Quebec, a dozen of these sites are now secure.

Philippe Couillard expresses general incredulity before savage aggression. “We all say spontaneously:” In Quebec, yes, yes … at home in Quebec! “To Quebeckers of Muslim faith, he wanted to send an unequivocal message. “You are at home, you are welcome at home, we are all Quebeckers.”

Tears in his eyes, his voice broken, Mayor Régis Labeaume said: “We have the impression of dreaming. Quebec, this beautiful city, has just lived an unnamed drama. I have often said that despite the peace that reigns here, we were not safe. We have just lived the fatality! “Declaring himself” revolted by this crapulous gesture “, he assures the Muslim community of his support. “Above all, we want to tell them that we love them!”

Vigils will be held in Quebec City today at the old church of Notre-Dame-de-Foy, said Mayor Labeaume.

In Montreal, a vigil will be held at the former Gare Jean-Talon, at the exit of the Metro Park, Monday night at 6 pm.

Earlier, Christine Coulombe of the Sûreté du Québec confirmed that the police dealt with tragedy as a “terrorist attack.” The “Police Management Structure Against Terrorism” was deployed, a command cell composed of the Sûreté du Québec, the RCMP and the Montreal Police Service. The specialized teams will be deployed – dog masters, explosives experts, for example. This cell was activated during the attack in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in October 2014.

Few details in this first press briefing. Ms. Coulombe stated that the deceased were between 35 and 70 years of age. Eight people were injured, some seriously. As a result, 39 people physically escaped. The prayer had ended a few minutes earlier, the women were still upstairs while the children, for the most part, were playing in the basement.

One of the assailants was intercepted on the spot. The other was able to flee by car but was stopped near the Pont de l’Île d’Orléans, about twenty kilometers away. Confessing his crime, the young man of 27 years said he felt bad after the attack and threatened to end his life, reveals Le Soleil . His vehicle, a black Mitsubishi, was stopped, flashing lights on. He was taken to the Quebec City police headquarters at Victoria Park. Handguns and an AK-47 were found in the vehicle. The area was closed by the police for nearly five hours, causing a monster traffic jam.

According to testimony broadcast on television, the Quebec accent of one of the two assailants left no doubt as to its origin. A few minutes before 8 pm, the two murderers started shooting. One of them shouted “Allah akbar” (God is great), the incantation often launched by Islamic terrorists. The gunman would have had time to reload his gun three times, according to a testimony.

On the outskirts of the mosque, the reactions were filled with stupor, incredulity. For the president of the Islamic Center, Mohamed Yangui, every Sunday evening from 60 to 100 people gather to pray in the hall. Women and children gather in the basement of the establishment. The place of worship is the largest in the Quebec City area for Muslims.

Shaken, the Muslim leader recalled that the place of worship had been the victim of acts of vandalism last year. Shortly before Ramadan, someone had placed a pig’s head in the post office, and then there had been graffiti. Three weeks later, an Islamophobic letter entitled “What is the most serious: a pig’s head or a genocide?” Was distributed in the neighborhood. The place of worship had not been the subject of threats recently.

“Pig head, paint. We had talked about isolated actions … and voila! Today we have deaths! “Said Mr. Yangui. “Through this act, what is the message? What do you want? We work here, pay our taxes, we contribute positively to the community, “he said, moved.

In the peaceful arrondissement of Sainte-Foy, an imposing police perimeter was deployed in the evening. One of the accesses to the site was guarded by a policeman with a machine gun. Quebeckers of an anxious Muslim faith were pacing around the site. People who were inside the mosque during the shooting were detained for several hours and then transported to a nearby sports center.

Mohamed Ouezzani went to the Islamic Center of Quebec for the evening prayer at 7:30 pm. He left immediately afterwards, but several remained. The crime took place a few minutes after his departure. “We felt – and I hope we will continue to feel – a sense of belonging to Quebec,” Ouezzani said. We were part of that province, that city. We were welcomed and we were grateful. It is our country too and it is our city. It’s shocking.”

Abdallah Asafiri should have been at the Islamic Center on Sunday night. If he was not there, it was because his son had borrowed his car. “This is a new reality,” observed the father of a family who has lived in Quebec for over 20 years. Now, people feel insecure. We become a target. ”

A Muslim girl lives right in front of the mosque. “It’s terrifying. I’m shocked, surprised. We did not expect that. I come every Friday. And everything is done in peace. We pray and we go home, in peace, “she said,” it could have been us, it could have been us, “she tears.

Near her, her friend Ahmed stressed that the Muslims of Quebec City had never sought confrontation. “People are very discreet, they pray and go home. They do not make any noise. And those who live around, there are those who do not even know that there is a mosque … I do not see why something like this has been committed, “he observes. He knew one of the victims, the owner of an Arab grocery store located in the neighborhood. An Arab witness, too, did not hide his vexation.

“No one says so, but it was Quebeckers who were victims of this attack,” said Samar Ben-Romdhan. She has a doctorate from Université Laval and has been attending the Center culturel Islamique de Québec for more than a decade. Sunday, shaken, she tried to reach all her friends to make sure they were all right. “The Muslim community of Quebec is over-qualified, qualified and almost entirely attached to Université Laval. It’s a very quiet community, “she said, swallowing a sob.

According to her, the authorities should have taken very seriously the delivery of a pig head in front of the great mosque last summer. “Several said it was a joke, but there was a note with the pig’s head, it was clearly a threat,” believes the communications expert, who wears the veil.

She reported having witnessed a veritable rise of Islamophobia in Quebec since 2007. “I was insulted several times in the street because I wear the veil. I do not like to do analysis of cause and effect, but I think the media in Quebec City, the international context and the actions and about Donald Trump all contribute to an unhealthy climate