Canadian PM speaks of ‘darkness’ at funeral of Quebec mosque attack victims


The Canadian Prime Minister has attended the funeral of three of the six men killed in an attack at a Quebec City mosque.

Justin Trudeau spoke to the thousands of people packed into Quebec’s Maurice-Richard Arena in Arabic.
There was applause after he said “as-Salaam-alaikum”, which means “peace be unto you”.

The Liberal Party leader stood before the caskets of Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi and Aboubaker Thabti, which were draped in the flags of their homelands.

He said the massacre has left Canada in shock but also unified the country in solidarity with the Muslim community.

“It is with a heavy heart that we come together this afternoon to grieve the loss of these innocent lives,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Thabti, 44, was a pharmacist of Tunisian origin who had three children.

Mr Belkacemi, a 60-year-old father-of-two, was from Algeria and a professor at Universite Laval.
Mr Hassane, a 41-year-old also from Algeria, was a father-of-three and worked in information technology for the Quebec provincial government.

Mr Trudeau said they were devoted fathers who worked hard to ensure their families had a bright future – a dream, he said, that Canadians have known and shared for generations.

The men, along with three others, were killed when a gunman entered the mosque and opened fire during evening prayers. Nineteen more people were wounded.

University student Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been charged with murder and attempted murder. He was arrested on Sunday night following the attack.

Bissonnette was a fan of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and US president Donald Trump, and acquaintances said he took extreme nationalist, pro-Le Pen positions at Laval University and on social media.

Quebec mayor Denis Coderre, who was also among the dignitaries at the funeral, said the attack was a blow to everyone.

“I think that we are all suffering” after the shooting, he said. “Not just the Muslim community, it’s not just the people of Quebec. Everyone is suffering from this.”

Philippe Couillard, premier of Quebec province, noted all six dead were fathers like him.
He said: “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,” Mr Couillard said, to thunderous applause and cheers.

A funeral is expected in Quebec City on Friday for the three other victims: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Ibrahima Barry, 39; and Azzedine Soufiane, 57.

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