The sixth anniversary of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre shooting sees ceremonies in the establishment's prayer room for the first time.

In a statement Sunday, Trudeau said the
In a statement Sunday, Trudeau said the "fight against Islamophobia" must be ongoing. (Reuters Archive)

For the first time, the Canadian ceremony to mark the sixth anniversary of the horrific Quebec mosque murders will take place in the prayer room where the shootings happened.

"It's very emotionally charged," said Maryam Bessiri, a spokesperson for the Commemoration citoyenne de l'attentat, the group organising the event. 

On the evening of January 29, 2017, an attacker entered the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre where worshippers were at prayer and opened fire. He killed six men and wounded 19 more, five critically.

The shootings, which shocked the nation, robbed 17 children of their fathers.

The Canadian government passed legislation to mark January 29 as the National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque Attack and Action Against Islamophobia.

But the question is, did the recognition of anti-Muslim hate and the horrors of that day change attitudes toward Muslims in Canada?

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Stephen Brown, chief executive officer of the National Council of Canadian Muslims, which is the largest Muslim organisation in Canada, said subsequent events prove it did not.

"Since that day, five more Muslim(s) have perished in Islamophobic attacks in Toronto's IMO (International Muslim Organization) Mosque as well as in London, Ontario," he said in a press release Sunday.

On June 6, 2021, a man drove his truck into a Muslim family as they were out for a walk in London, a city of 378,000 west of Toronto. The attack left a family of four dead.

Taha Ghayyur, executive director for the Muslim organisation Justice for all Canada, agreed with Brown's assessment.

"Things have worsened ... especially with the recent London family attack," Ghayyur said in an email interview with Anadolu Agency prior to Sunday's commemoration. "Both perpetrators of the Quebec City and London massacres were influenced by global Islamophobia trends."

"We also see hate crime statistics rising in Canada, especially against Muslims. There is also a rise in hate-motivated attacks against visibly racialised Muslim women," Ghayyur said. 

Sliver of hope

However, there is hope. Earlier this week Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named human rights advocate Amira Elghawaby to study and make recommendations to combat anti-Islam hate.

"It's a historic appointment," Ghayyur said. "Canada is the first country in the world to appoint a representative or leader to oversee and advise on issues of Islamophobia.

"It's a huge step forward. It will help us advocate for systemic changes in Canada and globally and give us the capacity to raise concerns to the right people in the right places at the micro-and macro levels," he said.

Ghayyur said Muslims around the world are persecuted and that has a negative effect in Canada.

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"We believe Islamophobia in Canada does not fester in a vacuum. It is intimately connected with global events and ideologies that are directly oppressing Muslim minorities around the world," he said.

"For example, many hate mongers in North America have been connected to or inspired by mass shooters around the world inspired by white supremacist regimes oppressing Muslims.

"This is also displayed in systemic ways in our institutions. For example, there are leaders involved in Canadian public policy influenced by hate emanating from nationalist groups in India and China, where open calls for anti-Muslim are taking place," he said.

In a statement Sunday, Trudeau said the "fight against Islamophobia" must be ongoing.

"Islamophobia has no place in Canada, and we must continue our work to help Muslims feel safe," he said.

Nerves frayed by the shooting carnage are still raw today.

"Believe me, the sorrow doesn't go away. Yes, we live our life and this is nature. But the sorry is in our hearts every day," Samer Mazjoub, president of the Canadian Muslim Forum, said earlier this week.

Source: AA