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Ceremonies mark third year since Canada mosque attack

Trudeau calls deadly shooting of six Muslims ‘brutal and inhumane attack’

Barry Ellsworth   | 29.01.2020
Ceremonies mark third year since Canada mosque attack FILE PHOTO

TRENTON, Canada

Canada marked the third anniversary of a deadly Quebec City mosque shooting Wednesday with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling it a “brutal and inhumane attack.”

Six people died and 19 were wounded Jan. 29, 2017 when Alexandre Bissonnette walked into the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec and calmly opened fire.

“We share the pain of their children, spouses, friends and neighbours who were robbed of their loved ones far too soon,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Our thoughts are also with those injured, whose lives forever changed after this brutal and inhumane attack.”

Vigils and ceremonies are taking place across Canada to mark the tragedy, including in major cities of St. John’s, Kitchener, Winnipeg and Vancouver.

The Mosque: A Community’s Struggle, a documentary, will be shown at theatres across Quebec, including Quebec City. The documentary was made in 2018.

“(It) is an intimate portrait of the resilient Muslim community of Ste-Foy Quebec as they struggle to survive and shift the narrative a year after the attack that took the lives of six of their members,” according to a statement by Muslim Link, a website that connects Muslims living in Canada. Ste Foy is an area in Quebec City.

A commemorative ceremony is set for 6 p.m. Wednesday (2300GMT) at nearby Saint-Mathieu Church and foods from North Africa and Guinea, the places where the victims were born, will be served.

The tragedy did not bring a drop in attendance to the mosque where the massacre occurred, and in fact, the facility is undergoing a $CAN1.2 million ($910,000) renovation to make the building more secure and accommodate more worshippers.

“On Fridays, all our floors are full,” said Mohamed Labidi, a member of the mosque’s board of directors. “It’s hard to find an empty space, so it’s necessary (to expand).”

Ironically as the memorials marked the massacre, two days earlier the Quebec Court of Appeal heard sentencing arguments from lawyers Bissonnette, and the Crown, or government prosecution.

Bissonnette was given a 40-year jail term before he becomes eligible for parole at age 67, and his legal team believes the sentence to be too long. The Crown lawyers think the sentence should be longer.

Crown prosecutor Thomas Jacques said what Bissonnette did was so atrocious = he should be given an extra 10 years behind bars.

“It was possibly the worst hate crime in Canadian history,” Jacques said.

The court decision will likely be rendered later this year.

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