Mohamed Labidi, vice-president of Quebec Islamic Centre, is teary-eyed as he answers reporters question after attending the trial of Alexandre Bissonnette, at the hall of justice, Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in Quebec City. For Mohamed Labidi, the deadly attack in Quebec City on Saturday night brought back sad memories. Labidi was the president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in 2017, when the mosque was attacked by a gunman who killed six worshippers and injured more than dozen others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Mohamed Labidi, vice-president of Quebec Islamic Centre, is teary-eyed as he answers reporters question after attending the trial of Alexandre Bissonnette, at the hall of justice, Tuesday, February 21, 2017 in Quebec City. For Mohamed Labidi, the deadly attack in Quebec City on Saturday night brought back sad memories. Labidi was the president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City in 2017, when the mosque was attacked by a gunman who killed six worshippers and injured more than dozen others. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jacques Boissinot

Quebec attack brings back bad memories of 2017 mosque slaying that killed six

Violent crime is normally rare in Quebec’s capital

For Mohamed Labidi, the deadly attack in Quebec City Saturday night brought back memories of that cold January night in 2017.

Back then, he was president of the mosque in the provincial capital that was attacked by a gunman who murdered six worshippers and injured more than a dozen others.

“It’s very sad, the events, it brings back memories,” Labidi said in an interview Monday, regarding last weekend’s sword attack in historic Old Quebec that left two dead and five injured. But despite the violence, Labidi said he still thinks Quebec City is peaceful.

Residents are questioning why their hometown has become the scene of two grisly attacks in the past few years. But despite their sadness, they say they won’t let the events define them or their city.

The district’s beauty may have been one of the reasons it was targeted, Mayor Regis Labeaume suggested Monday in a Facebook post. A 24-year-old man who police say travelled to the provincial capital from Montreal’s north shore has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder.

Labeaume said the Halloween night attack brought back memories of the mosque murders of Jan. 29, 2017. At a press conference on Sunday, he said it felt like he was replaying an old film.

Jean Rousseau, the city councillor who represents the district where Saturday’s stabbings took place, says the suffering and trauma in the neighbourhood are “palpable.” The mosque attack in 2017 was already incomprehensible, he said. Now, he said he’s left with an unanswerable question: “Why us?”

Violent crime is normally rare in Quebec’s capital — in 2019, five homicides were reported in the city of roughly 540,000 residents. Old Quebec is better known for being a tourist destination in normal times, with its historic architecture and its role in Canada’s history.

Rousseau said that because the neighbourhood is so symbolic — it’s on the UNESCO World Heritage list — the violence there has deeply affected people across the province and the country.

“Quebec won’t be defined by these two sad events,” he said in an interview Monday, “but by its capacity to welcome and appreciate diversity.”

Jean-Yves Duclos, the federal member of Parliament who represents the area, said the pandemic has already heightened people’s sense of physical insecurity. People can’t visit each other the way they used to and can’t hug each other even at a time like this, he said, making it harder.

But Duclos said he thinks the city will come together. It took time, he said, but eventually, in the aftermath of the mosque shooting, the people of Quebec City became “stronger and more united.”

“It’s a city where people have a very strong sense of security, and also a strong sense of proximity and solidarity. It’s a city where people live well and enjoy each other’s company,” he said in an interview Monday.

Like Labeaume, Duclos said he wondered if the suspect targeted the old city for symbolic reasons.

“It’s a very symbolic, very historical place — still a very beautiful place,” Duclos said. “It’s strong both in the history and in the present of Canada.”

READ MORE: Quebec City attack highlights need for discussion on mental health: Legault

———

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

Jacob Serebrin, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Quebec

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Mayor Doug McCallum. (File photo)
Surrey mayor taking it on the chin during budget public hearing

So far, he’s cut five callers off during Monday’s virtual meeting

The entrance at Fleetwood Villa in Surrey. (Photo: dignified.ca)
Fleetwood Villa resident tests positive for COVID-19, leading to ‘outbreak’ at facility

Fraser Health says it’s ‘critically important’ for people in the region to use COVID-19 assessment tool

A Surrey protest now in week 12 against a local resident has frayed the nerves of neighbours fed-up with the group’s presence. (Submitted photo)
Surrey neighbourhood fed-up with strange protest

Surrey Mounties say they’re monitoring the situation

Bhupinder Hundal. (submitted photo)
Surrey’s Bhupinder Hundal hired as news director of B.C. broadcaster

Grad of Princess Margaret Secondary now managing Global station

Surrey-White Rock MLA-elect Trevor Halford and Surrey South MLA-elect Stephanie Cadieux have each been given a portfolio as an Opposition critic. (Contributed photos)
BC Liberals give Halford, Cadieux critic responsibilities

Surrey South and Surrey-White Rock MLAs to help keep eye on majority NDP government

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest weekend of COVID-19 pandemic with 46 deaths; more than 2,300 cases

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry provides COVID-19 update

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
32 family members respond to Abbotsford care home’s plea for staffing help during COVID-19 outbreak

Menno Home asks for relief workers for food service, laundry and housekeeping

Kettle bells sit aligned in an indoor fitness studio. (PIxabay.com)
1 COVID-19 case at a B.C. fitness studio leads to 104 more infections, 6 school exposures

According to case data released by Fraser Health, one case of the novel coronavirus carries a big impact

Vehicles drive past a display thanking essential workers in Burnaby, B.C. on Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marissa Tiel
B.C. changing COVID-19 case reporting as virus spread continues

Manual counting takes more time, leads to errors

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Mask fundraiser helps make children’s wishes come true

From Black Press Media + BraveFace – adult, youth and kid masks support Make-A-Wish Foundation

Christy Jordan-Fenton is the co-author of the book Fatty Legs, which has been mentioned amid the controversy of an Abbotsford school assignment on residential schools.
Co-author of residential schools book condemns controversial Abbotsford class assignment

Children’s book mentioned amid controversy at W. A. Fraser Middle School

Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka takes over as energy and mines critic for the B.C. Liberal opposition. Kelowna-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick (right) moves from health critic to assistant deputy speaker. (Hansard TV)
B.C. Liberals pick critics to take on Horgan’s NDP majority

Interim leader Shirley Bond takes seniors, long-term care

B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. (Black Press Media files)
Judge hears Langley development case that could end in mayor, councillors booted out of council

The conflict of interest case was launched by local voters a year ago

Most Read