Hundreds of Montrealers march against Islamophobia
Organizers say march meant as support to Quebec Muslims in wake of deadly shooting rampage
Hundreds of people took part in a march against Islamophobia in downtown Montreal Saturday.
Organizers said the march was meant to support Quebec's Muslim citizens as they try to come to grips with last weekend's deadly shooting rampage at a Quebec City mosque.
Six men died and 19 were wounded in the attack during evening prayers last Sunday.
Police have charged Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
Similar rallies took place in other cities across Canada.
'No matter our faith, we're all Quebecers'
The Montreal event started with a gathering at Place Émilie-Gamelin around 12 p.m. Participants then started to march, heading down Berri Street to René-Lévesque Boulevard.
As they marched, they chanted in French, "No matter our faith, we're all Quebecers" and "Yes, yes, yes to peace! No, no, no to hate!"
Judith Bres said she attended the march to help counter the spread of hate she's seeing in the world.
"We're here to say we resist, and that love is the best answer."
Bres said it's essential that the public and politicians be more outspoken on matters like Islamophobia.
"We have to have the courage to stand for the people who are more vulnerable," she said.
Arlene Van Leeuwen said she came to help comfort her Muslim co-citizens in their time of need.
"I'm hoping our presence will lighten that burden of sorrow somewhat," she said.
She said politicians need to help remove obstacles that stand in the way of integration into Quebec society.
"Certain professional associations are quite exclusive and it's more difficult as an immigrant who is a professional to work in Quebec than some other provinces," she said.
Montreal police reported a spike in calls about hate-related incidents in the days following the shootings, mainly reports of hate speech.
Police are also investigating the vandalizing of the Khadijah Masjid Islamic Centre in Montreal's Pointe-Saint-Charles neighbourhood on Thursday, the same day a funeral was held for three of the shooting victims elsewhere in Montreal.
Dozens of Montrealers rallied Friday outside the centre to offer their support and condemn the vandalism, which police are investigating as a hate crime.