It’s with a heavy heart that I think back to the tragic attack on the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec last January 29.
I can’t imagine what it must have been like to be in that sacred space and have that serenity destroyed by a lone gunman, bent on killing as many people as he could.
My thoughts and prayers are with those who lost their loved ones that night, the families of Aboubakr Thabti, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane and Abdelkarim Hassane. I think of the seventeen children who will no longer have their fathers in their lives. I think of their spouses who have lost their life partners. It truly is heartbreaking and unfathomable.
I think, too, of the nineteen others who were physically injured that night. One of those men is Aymen Derbali, whose story has now become widely known. Aymen deliberately put himself in the shooter’s line of sight in order to distract him away from his fellow worshippers. He was shot seven times – two bullets are still lodged in his spine. He is a Canadian hero. I’m deeply inspired by his determination to rebuild his life, though he faces many challenges and obstacles as he will never walk again.
The Quebec City Muslim community is still coping with this tragedy; such loss is understandably deeply traumatic and has both short and long-term consequences.
What I hope to express is my personal commitment to counter the attitudes that would lead to hatred and bigotry of any kind. That is why the Canadian Labour Congress joined in the call for a National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia. Canada’s unions will continue to work with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and countless other organizations, to make this happen.
I believe each and every one of us has a responsibility to speak up whenever we hear or see hateful attitudes expressed: in our workplaces, in our social gatherings, in any other day-to-day interactions, and online.
Islamophobia is real. We must face it, and eradicate it, together. Let’s never forget January 29.
- Hassan Yussuff, CLC President