Canada Muslims weather fallout after deadly attack
Ottawa - After a shooting during evening prayers at a Quebec City mosque that left six Muslims dead, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said: “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric. It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.”
Trudeau was far from alone in rallying to support the victims — immigrant parents who worked in civil service and academia — of the January 29th attack.
Citizens across Canada donated thousands of dollars to those affected by the attack. Vigils and memorials were organised in nearly every major city across the country to mourn the victims. National television channels and media provided live coverage of their well-attended funerals.
“We are heartened by the overwhelming support from fellow Canadians in this time of deep crisis,” said Ihsaan Gardee, executive director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). “We must unite together against divisive forces that seek to harm our communities.”
The targeted mosque, the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, reopened for worship three days after the shootings. Mosque leaders said they had concerns even before the attack because the mosque had been targeted by anti-immigrant vandalism. Last Ramadan, a pig’s head was left at the front door of the mosque.
Reports of hate crimes in Canada rose in the 48 hours that followed the attack on the mosque. Montreal police said they received 29 reports of such incidents in the aftermath.
The Liberal government in Canada and other local authorities, however, have shown sympathy and cooperation with Muslim communities.
“The actual outcome [of official statements] remains to be seen,” said Professor Karim Karim, director of the Carleton University Centre for the Study of Islam, noting that the Canadian government has multiple competing priorities. “It’s up to Muslims to ensure that the attention continues to be paid with respect to how the police respond to complaints about hate speech, hate crimes, crimes against Muslims, Islamophobia and so on.”
Karim said statements by leaders as well as the extensive media coverage of the attack and the funerals indicate a turning point in terms of attention to such attacks, as it would likely positively affect the broader feeling of suspicion of Muslims.
On the US policy influence on Canada however, Karim said, “[The United States] is a very different country in terms of cultural attitude towards Muslims,” adding that the population in the United States is very fragmented with anti-Muslim tendency popular among those supporting the Trump presidency.
“The policy of multiculturalism in Canada, which has existed since 1971, appears to have produced a general coming-together of people trying to understand the other,” he added.