Mosque tragedy makes city stronger

Date 08/03/2017

Written byTaylor Ireland

It’s been a little more than a month since the horrific shooting at the Islamic cultural centre and mosque in Quebec City in which six people died and five wounded. The massacre left 17 children without fathers.

Despite early reports of a terrorist conspiracy, it is now established the killings were the act of a lone suspect, a 27-year-old student and son of a well-established Quebec City family. He had no known links with any jihadi group so it’s a matter of interpretation whether this was a terrorist act.

When he comes to trial – assuming he is ruled to be of sound enough mind – perhaps the public will learn what motivated him to turn his twisted feelings into a nightmarish act of violence against innocent people gathered in prayer.

From experience we know there is little that can be done to stop someone armed with weapons intent on doing evil. There are many examples every day all over this world.

Inevitably, the mosque massacre has raised the question of whether such an act was somehow symptomatic of racial attitudes in the city. It’s a bit of a cliché that Quebec City is one of the most ethnically homogeneous places in North America, but there is some truth to the fact that, for many reasons, it is as not as racially diverse as, say, Toronto, or Montreal.

The ethnic make-up of Quebec City, though, has changed much in recent years, mostly due to immigration policies. The Muslim community in Quebec City is a perfect example of how an immigrant group has established itself through determination and hard work, to the point that there are as many as five mosques or places of worship in the city.

Some immigrants may encounter incidents of misunderstanding and intolerance, as is the case with strangers newly arrived in any corner of the world. I, myself, as an English-speaking person of European origin, have been on the receiving end of comments about my accent and an invitation to return to whence I came. But such extremely rare incidents are the product of fear, misunderstanding, and, well, bad behaviour, and don’t reflect, in my view, the overwhelming sense of openness in Quebec City.

Though it was under the most sad and unfortunate circumstances, civic leaders emphatically demonstrated their solidarity with the Muslim community, as well as all other groups that form the growing diversity of the city. Ordinary citizens have donated to a fund totalling, as of this writing, well over $600,000 to help support the families of the victims, and the city has vowed a further $60,000. This is the city I know. This is the city I love.

It was heartening to hear what many members of Quebec City’s Muslim community had to say in the wake of such a horrible tragedy. Virtually no one renounced their belief that the city, the province of Quebec and Canada offer exceptional peace, promise and tolerance to people fleeing oppression from all over the world.

Quebec City is one of the safest and most welcoming cities on Earth. A single insane act by a deranged individual is not going to change that.