The Current

How Muslim Canadians are coping after Quebec City attack

As the country mourns the loss of six men killed at a mosque in Quebec City, their deaths cast light on the anti-Muslim sentiment that remains far too pervasive in Canada. A panel of Muslims share their experiences and reflect on the tragedy.
Shireen Ahmed says it's a difficult time to be a Muslim parent in Canada in the wake of the Quebec City mosque shootings. (Courtesy of Shireen Ahmed)

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"As a country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before. That is who we are."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau offered uplifting words during a funeral for three of the six men killed at a mosque, Jan. 29, in Quebec City.

Quebec mosque victims, clockwise from left: Azzedine Soufiane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Ibrahima Barry and Abdelkrim Hassane. (CBC)

The deadly attack is forcing Canadians to reckon with the persistence of Islamophobia in pockets of society.

And for many, feelings are particularly raw.  

Farida Mohamed, a teacher, and president of the Montreal chapter of the Canadian Council of Muslim Women, tells The Current's guest host Nora Young that recent news of a Montreal mosque vandalized right after the funeral for the three men killed in Quebec City attack is "incredulous."

"Right after we saw the feeling of support, the feeling of sympathy that fellow Quebecois were  giving to the Muslim community, we were still shocked to see that some people would go ahead and commit acts of vandalism," says Mohamed.

Mohamed says Muslims in Quebec feel sad and shocked in the aftermath of the shooting but also hopeful to start a necessary conversation.  
Mohamed Huque is heartened by the support he's seeing from Canadians but he says change is necessary. (Submitted by Mohamed Huque )

"These feelings or sentiments of Islamophobia or discrimination or racism they are going to be more out in the open, we're going to be able to discuss them openly instead of having a part of the population in denial."

Activist and sports writer Shireen Ahmed has teenagers who found out about the attack through social media.

"Several mosques in my area have been a huge part of their lives, so I was worried at how they would react in terms of how triggering it would be because they attend regularly."

Ahmed tells Young it's not an easy conversation to have.

"The biggest [question] was how could this happen? How could somebody violate a space like that? The essence of that space is about spiritual practice and worship."

Mohamed Huque, executive director of Islamic Family and Social Services Association, says since U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order barring citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, there's been a spike in donations from non-Muslims.

"I think in a lot of cases where you have tragedies like this, it's really an opportunity for a lot of people to show solidarity across lines," he says.

"I found that the outpouring of support from within the wider community has been incredibly heartwarming."

Listen to the full conversation at the top of this post.

​This segment was produced by The Current's Willow Smith and Sam Colbert.