'Time to turn the page': Quebec rallies call for unity after mosque killings

A week after a gunman killed six worshippers at a Quebec mosque, faith leaders and concerned citizens came together at events in Montreal and Quebec City to call for unity, peace and an end to the hatred that sparked the violence.

1-week anniversary of mosque shooting marked with events in Montreal, Quebec City

Seven-year-old Hajar Djilali-Merzoug, left, and her sister Affafe, of Saguenay, Que., hold handmade signs at Sunday's march in solidarity to the victims of the mosque shooting. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

A week after a gunman killed six worshippers at a Quebec mosque, faith leaders and concerned citizens came together at events in Montreal and Quebec City to call for unity, peace and an end to the hatred that sparked the violence.

In Montreal, the one-week anniversary of the shooting was marked with a multi-faith service outside City Hall organized by the Canadian Muslim Alliance.

The event brought together imams, rabbis, a Catholic bishop and protestant ministers who spoke on themes of interfaith unity and understanding.

"When you light a candle with many wicks, you end up with one large flame, and this is what we see here," said Rabbi Avi Finegold. 

Rabbi Avi Finegold addresses the audience at Sunday's inter-faith gathering in front of Montreal City Hall Sunday. (Stephen Smith/CBC)

"It's time to turn the page and to get busy cultivating this spirit of unity," said Imam Sidi Mohamed El Alaoui of the Centre Culturel Islamique du Laval. 

"I ask everyone to come together, to work together to understand each other. That way we will succeed, as a magnificent community and country."

Out of tragedy, Canada taps into its 'best'

Writer Idil Issa addressed Islamophobia in Quebec and said the time has come to chart a new course away from old suspicions.

"A discourse of exclusion, of marginalization, of othering hasn't gotten us anywhere," she said. 

Imam Sidi Mohamed El Alaoui of the Centre Culturel Islamique du Laval said 'Quebec and Canada are our homelands, and loving your homeland is an act of faith in Islam." (Stephen Smith/CBC)

"We need to set our sights higher — not on these petty politics of division and fear, but on what we have to contribute to the world as a diverse, strong Quebec."

Bishop Thomas Dowd of the Archdiocese of Montreal said he's starting to see those better angels of human nature coming to the fore.

"A week ago, we saw a manifestation of the worst kind of attitudes that can infect the human heart. But today, and in the days to come, I believe we're going to see the best of what our Canadian, our Quebec, our Montreal society has to offer," he said.

"Right now, at this moment, we're starting to live that best," he said to applause. 

At the end of the event, non-Muslim participants formed a symbolic wall around Muslim participants as they prayed. 

Writer Idil Issa called out the 'petty politics of division and fear' in Quebec. (Stephen Smith/CBC)

Quebec City rallies against ignorance

In Quebec City, several hundred people marched through the streets of the provincial capital in an event organized by the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (Islamic cultural centre of Quebec), where the shootings last Sunday occurred.

"We want to overcome ignorance. We want Muslims and non-Muslims to walk side by side. This is an opportunity for us to know each other more," said Smail Kalla, one of the organizers.

The event capped a weekend of events across Canada denouncing Islamophobia.

Participants with signs reading "Unity is strength" and "We are all family" gathered at Laval University and made their way to Quebec's National Assembly.

A few hundred people were on hand for Sunday's march. (Jacques Boissinot/Canadian Press)

Victims remembered

After public funerals for victims on Thursday in Montreal and Friday in Quebec City, smaller ceremonies were held for two of the victims on the weekend.

Mamadou Tanou Barry, a 42-year-old father of two originally from Guinea, was laid to rest at a cemetery in Laval.

The funeral for Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, was held Saturday in Algeria. He worked as a programming analyst for the Quebec government and had three daughters, aged 10, eight and 15 months.

Mourners gather in Algiers, Algeria, for the funeral of mosque shooting victim Karim Hassane. (Courtesy of Karim Alilouche)

With files from Radio-Canada