January 29th: Remembering the Quebec City Mosque Attack
By Youssef Elhossiny
On January 29, 2017, 27 year old Alexandre Bissonnette walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec and opened fire on Muslims gathered for prayer. He killed six people and left five others severely injured. He pled guilty with six accounts of first degree murder and six accounts of attempted murder. The perpetrator was facing 40 years in prison with no parole but the sentence was later reduced to 25 years by the Quebec Court of Appeals. Bissonnette’s actions were an act of terrorism undoubtfully motived by Islamophobia. This is proven as his target was a mosque. Bissonnette tells the police that his acts were majorly influenced by the former U.S. President, Donald Trump's travel restrictions on Muslims. The weekend following the enactment of the travel ban, Bissonnette decided to take action. One can infer that this was due to his disapproval of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau welcoming refugees with open arms.
The Quebec City shooting left an immediate and long lasting impact. The two minute attack changed many people's lives leaving 17 children without their fathers and six wives without their husband. This horrifying event started a public debate on terrorism, Islamophobia and racism in Canada. Following the attack, thousands of people attended a vigil for the Muslim community in Quebec. The Islamic Cultural Centre was renovated and remains a current mosque for Muslims to gather at. In addition to this, police had higher security around mosques for Muslims across Canada to safely pray. In January 2020, Muslims initiated the Green Square Campaign. From January 25th to 29th, people are expected to wear a patch of green fabric to show support to those victims who passed away and people who still persevere from the outcome of this event.
On January 29, 2021 Justin Trudeau wore the green square as he announced that January 29th will become a national day to recognize the Quebec City Mosque attack and to advocate for action against Islamophobia. “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country” said Prime Minister Justin Treadeu in a statement after the attack. “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge”.
Justin Trudeau assertively deems the event as a terrorist attack against Muslims as he opposes Islamophobia in Canada. In January 2021, NDP party leader Jagmeet Singh also showed solidarity to the victims who passed away and those who still suffer from the consequences of the shooting. He plans to create legislations targeting hate groups and white supremacist organizations. He expressed that remembering the event is not enough and action has to be taken to prevent this from happening in the future.