In Verdun, almost 70 people rallied in solidarity with the Muslim community on the anniversary of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre shooting. Signs and speeches spoke for the 6 slain men and the 19 injured, in hopes that Montrealers and all Canadians be more vigilant and counter Islamophobia and all racism.
All over the island, Montreal neighbourhoods held rallies commemorating the one year anniversary of the shooting. The gatherings were organized by a number of grassroots groups after a year of grieving and many residents came out for support.
The ‘Verdun Neighbours In Rage Against Islamophobia! ‘, organized their demonstration outside the Centre Islamique de Verdun Monday evening at 5 pm.
« I think we have to commemorate the horrible, horrible thing that happened. It is important for people to organize these things. I have no faith in the politicians and police. It is up to the people, » said Carl, holding a sign despite the cold.
They are all out to build awareness, and are using all means to spread the word. On social media, re is #RememberJan29 and the January 29 events were organized under the banner of ‘We Refuse to Forget; We Reject Islamophobia / anti-Muslim Racism.’
« We share an opposition to racism, and believe anti-muslim racism is manifesting itself in several ways in our community, in Montreal, and in Quebec, » explains Anne-Marie Gallant, one of the co-organizers of the Verdun event.
Most Muslims believe that the attack on the Grande Mosquée de Québec was not an isolated event.
Racism on the rise
In 2016, the latest year with available stats, there were 327 reported hate crimes in Quebec. It was a 20% increase from 2015. The police have deemed the increase is a result of more incidents targeting South Asians and Arabs, the Jewish population, and people based on their sexual orientation. The SPVM also recorded a rise of hate « incidents » in Montreal. These range from death threats to throwing eggs at a mosque.
« We must not let hate take over. We cannot allow groups to gain capital off the backs of Muslims. Quebecers must not tolerate hatred in any form, » said Ahmed Chihane, the president of the Centre Islamique de Verdun.
Regardless of the severity, the incidents have Muslims worried. Many have experienced discrimination, harassment, physical attacks, and insults on the streets and at work and their mosques and Muslim schools have been vandalized.
Muslim groups are calling on the various levels of government to acknowledge the attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre as an act of Islamophobia, and to recognize January 29 as a day of action against it.
For now, the rallies of January 29, 2018 will have to be enough to honor the memories of the fallen.
Remember these names:
- Ibrahima Barry
- Mamadou Tanou Barry
- Khaled Belkacemi
- Abdelkrim Hassane
- Azzedine Soufiane
- Aboubaker Thabti