How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

Whilst visitors manner the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec Town’s Sainte-Foy neighbourhood, they are not greeted by the huge picture windows that used to face the street, earlier than a deadly shooting 5 years in the past.

it has been changed with a concrete wall with smaller home windows, in case anyone attempts to ram the construction with a truck.

Safety cameras face all the entrances, together with the one a gunman used on Jan. 29, 2017, when he walked in and opened fireplace in a prayer room, killing six worshippers and wounding 19.

Mohamed Khabar had stopped via the mosque that evening, as he frequently did after closing his barbershop. After prayers, he was once speaking to friends about football: Morocco’s loss to Egypt on the Africa Cup Of Nations. 

“We had been speaking about … the mistakes the referee and the coaches had made,” Khabar mentioned. “We have been simply chatting approximately that, when we heard a large noise.”

Khabar says he froze as he watched the gunman shoot at males and kids around him. He used to be shot two times, in the leg and the foot. 

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

A bullet is observed lodged in a column within the mosque, days after the capturing. Some bullet holes remained within the partitions for no less than a 12 months after the assault. (Alice Cliche/Radio-Canada)

As he lay there bleeding he says he thought, this is it. He wouldn’t be able to break out if the gunman came nearer. 

“At that time, i believed of my son who used to be months vintage. i believed of my wife, i believed of my circle of relatives,” he stated.  

Khabar managed to make it to the stairs with a couple of others and hopped down on his excellent leg to the basement, to cover in the electric room. Nonetheless, he feared the gunman might follow his path of blood. 

but the gunman did not go back.

“After the tragedy a few other people were very afraid to come to the mosque,” said Mohamed Labidi, the mosque’s prior president. 

WATCH | Serving To worshippers heal:

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

See the newly renovated Quebec Town mosque that makes worshippers safer and is helping them ‘flip the page’

14 hours in the past

Duration 2:FIFTY ONE

The former president of the Islamic Cultural Centre offers a tour of the newly renovated mosque that used to be the location of a deadly assault five years in the past. 2:51

Even sooner than the capturing, the community had had plans to reinforce the building’s security, he says, as they were alarmed via escalating acts of vandalism and hate, akin to graffiti and a pig’s head that used to be left on the mosque’s steps.

The renovations and safety upgrades had been completed in March 2021. 

At Least two volunteers now monitor safety cameras in any respect occasions, to look at over worshippers as they pray. 

Khabar thinks the development is more secure.

There were cosmetic, but significant, adjustments too. 

Sections of the antique inexperienced carpet that had been stained with blood had already been removed after the shooting, however now it has been fully replaced. the brand new carpet is purple.

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

The mosque’s external wall dealing with the road has been strengthened, with extra concrete and smaller home windows, to guard against any person trying to ram the development with a truck. (Sylvain Roy Roussell/Radio-Canada)

After the capturing, mosque leaders had left bullet holes within the walls — scars at the development that mirrored the scars left on the group itself. 

Those scarred walls have considering that been plastered over and repainted a gleaming white. The brightness is intentional.

the speculation is “to turn the web page and feature an indication of peace whilst you enter the mosque,” said Labidi.

“Our function is to fail to remember the tragedy, and what came about here at the time.”

‘you are feeling you might be focused’

But in the international outdoor the mosque’s partitions — regardless of the messages of harmony and sympathy — the 2 males say it may be arduous to overlook that their group was once, and is still, the objective of hate and discrimination.

Khabar says his lifestyles isn’t like sooner than — past working his barbershop, he’s also meeting with politicians, advocating for gun regulate and denouncing Islamophobia. 

“you are feeling like you’re targeted via laws … that do not allow you to forget what came about on the mosque,” Khabar mentioned. 

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

Five years after he was shot, Mohamed Khabar nonetheless has hassle standing for lengthy sessions at the same time as he works at his barbershop. (Éric Careau/Radio-Canada)

Labidi issues to Quebec’s secularism law, referred to as Invoice 21, that bans the wearing of non secular symbols together with the hijab, for public employees in “positions of authority” including teachers. 

”We are all affected by this law as a result of … there may be discrimination in this legislation, and it’s going to now not be allowed in this society,” he said.

because the bill used to be followed, Labidi says no less than a dozen households have left Quebec. He says even for those whose jobs were not directly affected, the regulation has eroded their experience of belonging.

Quebec Muslims ‘disillusioned’

This sentiment is subsidized up by means of research revealed last 12 months within the magazine Canadian Ethnic Research, by means of researchers Geneviève Mercier-Dalphond and Denise Helly, which found that the capturing, the upward push of proper-wing extremist teams and rules comparable to Invoice 21 have all had an affect at the well-being of Muslims in Canada.

However, the observe found Montreal and Quebec Town respondents have been “extra concerned with institutionalised Islamophobia in the type of rules, particularly Invoice 21.”

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

Quebec Top-Rated François Legault, observed right here at a Tuesday news convention, has defended Bill 21, pronouncing it is ‘now not approximately racism’ and not ‘towards Muslims.’ (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

The look at discovered Quebec respondents had been “disappointed” that the shooting used to be not the turning point they hoped. 

Quebec Optimum François Legault has again and again defended the invoice, pronouncing it’s neither aimed at Muslims nor motivated by racism. 

He stated recently he’ll attend the rite marking the anniversary of the capturing on Saturday.

‘A message of hope’

Despite the disillusionment he sees among Muslim Quebecers, Labidi says he still feels the toughen of the broader group.

“There are so much of individuals whose perspectives changed,” after the capturing, he mentioned. “Everyone within the group nonetheless sees it, 5 years later.”

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He desires this year’s commemoration to be “a message of hope” that Quebecers can be more potent together, and that the Muslim community is “a component of this society.”

although he nonetheless has pain whilst he stands for too lengthy, and replays the taking pictures in his thoughts, Khabar has hope too. 

He hopes that his son, who’s now five, will grow up feeling safe.

“I’m an eternal optimist,” he said, “i believe issues will change.”

How making their mosque safer is helping Quebec City Muslims turn the page on tragedy

At vigils, corresponding to this one the day after the shooting in 2017, the Quebec City Muslim community witnessed an outpouring of reinforce from politicians at all ranges. Five years later, a brand new observe indicates Quebec Muslims are ‘disenchanted’ on the lack of growth in coping with violence and discrimination. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

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