'We don't feel safe': Mosque shooting sends shock wave through Quebec Muslim community

The deadly attack at a mosque in Quebec City is rippling through Quebec's Muslim community, many of whom say they no longer feel safe.

Head of mosque in Montreal's West Island says it, too, has been target of Islamophobia

The Dorval Mosque has been a frequent target of Islamophia, said its president, Mehmet Deger. (Charles Contant/CBC)

The deadly attack at a mosque in Quebec City is rippling through members of Quebec's Muslim community, many of whom say they no longer feel safe.

Mehmet Deger's own mosque in Dorval, in Montreal's West Island, has been targeted a number of times.

Windows have been broken, someone shot at his vehicle, and recently, he filed a police report when it was stickered by anti-Islamic propaganda. 

"We put six cameras on our mosque and we still don't feel safe," Deger told CBC Montreal's Daybreak

"Our lives are in danger."

Six people were killed and more than a dozen wounded in the shooting during evening prayers Sunday, in what Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard described as a "murderous act directed at a specific community."

Despite taking extra security measures, Deger said there's no preparation that will prevent someone from attacking if they want to attack.

"If a person is going to attack, they come and attack," he said.

Islamophobia on rise, activist says

The leader of the Association of Muslim and Arabs for a Secular Quebec, Haroun Bouazzi, said he was shocked but not surprised by the attack.

Bouazzi, who himself has been the target of death threats, said Islamaphobia has been a major problem, with mosques across the province subject to vandalism.

"​We have been seeing a huge amount of hatred against Muslim minorities here in Quebec," he said. "All of the mosques have been subject of hate."

The pig's head was left in front of the Quebec City mosque last July. (Radio-Canada)
The attack comes after years of heated debate over whether public servants should be allowed to wear religious headwear, which centred around the headscarf worn by Muslim women. 

Bouazzi said the tone and tenor of that debate helped stoke fear of Muslims.

The Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, the site of Sunday's shooting, has been the target of xenophobic messaging and vandalism in the past.

Last July, in the middle of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a gift-wrapped pig's head was left at the front door with a note saying, "bon appétit."

'Your worst nightmares'

But even if vandalism is a fairly common occurrence in the province and across Canada, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum said he never imagined anything like this.

Sunday's shooting at a Quebec City mosque left six people dead and several more injured. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)
"Even in your worst nightmares, we never thought for a fraction of a moment that such a terrible massacre could happen in Canada or Quebec," said Samer Majhoub.

"We know that Islamophobia exists in the country and in Quebec, but to the extent of having people being shot and killed in cold blood …. The shock wave is hitting the community."

Montreal police have already reached out to leaders from the Muslim community to offer any additional support. Patrol cars were dispatched overnight to visit area mosques as a preventative measure.

A team of advisers, including police officers and civilians, will be at a centralized command post to answer questions and concerns from the Montreal Muslim community on Monday.