As It Happens

Member of Quebec mosque fears for his safety after friends killed in attack

A gunman opened fire at a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday night and left six people dead, including two of Mohammed Oudghiri's friends. He tells us about his sorrow and about his initial instinct to leave Canada — and why now, despite his fears, he plans to stay put.
Mohamed Oudghiri is a member of the Quebec City mosque and lost two friends in the attack. (Francis Vachon/CP)

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Police in Quebec City have one man in custody. Another man is being held as a witness to Sunday's murderous attack on the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. Six people are dead, shot to death as they performed their evening prayers.

According to Quebec City police, the shooting began just before 8 p.m. (Maxime Corneau/Radio-Canada)

Monday morning, the distraught leaders of the mosque joined the city's mayor, Quebec's premier and community leaders of all stripes to show their solidarity and to mourn. The president of the mosque, Mohamed Yangui, closed the event with a reading from the Koran — a prayer for the dead. ​

Mohammed Oudghiri is a member of the mosque. He lost two friends in the shooting. As It Happens guest host Helen Mann spoke with Oudghiri on Monday, after he had just returned from the hospital where the wounded are being treated. Here is part of their conversation.
Mohamed Labibi, president of the Islamic cultural centre, is comforted by Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, left, and Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume, right, during a news conference on Monday. (Jacques Boissinot/CP)

Helen Mann: Mr. Oudghiri, please accept my condolences on this terrible day.

Mohammed Oudghiri: Well, when you spend one night, you have to take just a little bit to think about everything. Yesterday, I've been injured. I hated myself and I hated this life. I hate the radicalized people. We are born. We should be human and we should work hand-in-hand.

HM: I understand you have now learned that you have lost two of your friends.

MO: Yes. I have lost one of the best of my friends. We know each other for more than 25 years.

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard speaks to Muslim community

5 years ago
Duration 0:17
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard speaks to Muslim community after six people were killed in an attack in a Quebec City mosque. 0:17

HM: Premier Philippe Couillard said today that we should ask those who knew these victims about their lives and who they were. Can you tell us a bit about that best friend of yours?

MO: He's a good person. He's an entrepreneur. He had a grocery and he was my neighbour before and after he was somebody we meet at the mosque. If the mosque need him for something, for anything, he is always present. He never said "no" and he helped people, everybody.
Azzeddine Soufiane, seen here at his grocery store, had been the target of anti-Muslim messages in the past, but friends said he always brushed off the events with a smile, preferring not to call attention to himself. His wife and business partner Najat Naanaa sold the store after he died. (Submitted by Ali Ouldache)

HM: How is his family holding up today?

MO: Yesterday, we were with his family. His apartment was very crowded, about 40 people there. Still now, while I'm talking to you, the people don't stop to see his wife and children. They need the presence of somebody at home to support them.

HM: Can you tell us what happened last night in terms of how you first learned about this and the impact it had on you when you found out?

MO: Yesterday, I was at home. I received a call from one friend working at a radio station. He asked me if it's true that there was an attack at the mosque of Sainte-Foy. I was astonished. I said I didn't hear, but I'm going to look. I have to move. I took my car, but we couldn't reach the mosque. We can't contact people because I just saw the emergency cars bringing people injured and dead to the different hospitals.
Quebec provincial and municipal police officers stand guard after a shooting at the Quebec City Islamic cultural centre on Jan. 30, 2017. (Andre Pichette/EPA)

HM: How have you been coping as you've learned all these things? How has it made you feel?

MO: I can't describe to you how I am feeling. Yesterday, I was angry. I decided to leave this country. But, you know, we said always, after one night, you have to think the other way. If we give the chance to the terrorist, we are the loser. We have to stay here. We have to be proud that we are Canadians. We are Quebecers and we have to fight these guys. 

HM: Do you feel unsafe?

MO: Since yesterday, I'm afraid. I am afraid because I don't feel I am secure. That's what's happened here. I never, never, never been believing this could happen here in Quebec.
HM: We understand that the mosque had received threats in the past. There was that incident of a pig's head being that was sent. You been a member there for some time. Have you had a sense that the mosque might be targeted in some way?

MO: No. The troubles just started the last year, the last summer. Troubles in all of the world. They bring pork head and they put it in the mosque. After that, they come and they broke the windows and they write many bad things on the walls. That's the last summer.

HM: Do you think that more could have been done to prevent this?

MO: Yes. We need more security. Not just for us, but for all people, because it's becoming worse and worse.

An ambulance is parked at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre on Jan. 29, 2017. (Mathieu Belanger/Reuters)

HM: How are you going to be remembering your dear friend that you lost and other members of your community?

MO: You can't forget one friend like that. He is always present in our life and his family is always present.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity. For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Mohammed Oudghiri and go to for the latest coverage.


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