The Muslim community of Quebec will pay tribute to the victims on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the deadly attack on a mosque

Five years after a deadly attack at a Quebec mosque that killed six people and injured 19, survivors and members of the Muslim community will gather on Saturday to close a week of events surrounding the tragedy.

Mosque leaders say the anniversary marks an important moment in memory of the dead and those whose lives were changed forever on the night of January 29, 2017, when a gunman entered the Islamic cultural center of the city in the Sainte-Foy district and opened fire.

Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzeddine Soufiane and Aboubaker Thabti were shot shortly after the end of evening prayers at the mosque.

Since the attack, the Islamic Center has undergone significant upgrades to ensure Muslim worshipers feel safe inside.

Six vibrant portraits of the men killed in the attack also adorn the walls of the mosque this weekend to honor their humanity. But outside the mosque walls, members of the province’s Muslim community paint a different picture.

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The former president of the Islamic Cultural Center gives a tour of the recently renovated mosque which was the scene of a deadly attack five years ago. 2:51

In a series of events held mostly online this week due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the community is calling for more government action to tackle Islamophobia, including changing parts of Quebec’s controversial law on secularism, known as Bill 21, and by toughening Canada’s gun control laws. .

At a news conference Thursday, Boufeldja Benabdallah said Premier Francois Legault’s refusal to acknowledge Islamophobia in the province is hampering progress in Quebec.

“In Quebec, our premier does not recognize systemic racism or Islamophobia as existing,” said Benabdallah, the co-founder of the mosque where the tragedy took place.

“We must act, and action is the fight against discrimination and systemic racism; it is the fight against the guns that kill our children, our adults.”

WATCH | The artist pays tribute to the six men killed by painting a portrait of each:

“They were real people with real lives, real families, real dreams.”

Visual artist Akil Virani has spent more than two years painting the portraits of the six men killed in the January 29, 2017 shooting at the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec in Quebec City. 2:10

Ceremonies held in Quebec, Montreal

Saturday’s anniversary marks the first official National Day of Remembrance of the Quebec City Mosque attack and of action against Islamophobia, proclaimed by the federal government in April 2021.

An official ceremony is to take place Saturday in front of the Quebec City mosque at 6 p.m. ET. Survivors and relatives of victims will deliver speeches, and Legault and Quebec City Mayor Bruno Marchand are among those expected to attend Saturday night’s event.

Due to the pandemic, the event will be broadcast live and the public is invited to follow the event online.

In Montreal, a vigil is scheduled for Saturday at 5 p.m. ET at the Parc metro station in the city’s Parc-Extension neighborhood to honor the victims of the shooting.

The event, organized by the founders of Muslim Awareness Week (MAW), will feature guest speakers before a moment of silence is observed.

“The attack on CCIQ in 2017 and its impact on our society should not be forgotten and we must seriously address its root causes,” said Ehab Lotayef, co-founder and former president of MAW.

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