Vigils across Canada as victims of the Quebec mosque attack identified
Hundreds crowded around the Centennial Flame on Parliament Hill clutching their own candles, in a scene that repeated itself across the country Monday evening as mourners paid tribute to the victims of the Quebec City mosque attack.
Six worshippers were killed and 19 others wounded when a gunman opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec Sunday night. Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been charged with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted firearm.
The victims were all men, between the ages of 30 and 60, and attending a prayer service when the shooting erupted. Here’s what we know about them.
Azzedine Soufiane, grocery store owner
Soufiane owned and worked at a grocery store, Boucherie Assalam, in the Sainte-Foy neighborhood of Quebec City, a short distance from the Islamic Cultural Centre. One of Soufiane’s close friends Amine Noui, told reporters that Soufiane was revered by many in the community and was “like a father to everyone.” Noui said that it was Soufiane who helped him adjust to his new life when he moved into town a decade ago.
Pamela Sakinah El-Hayet told Reuters that she and Soufiane were friends and that he was a father of four children. The shop was closed on Monday and mourners had left flowers outside.
In 2009, Soufiane told Le Soleil that he never experienced any troubles during the 20 years he lived in Quebec. “We live in society, we live in peace, and we hope that it will continue like this,” he told the news outlet at the time.
Khaled Belkacemi, a professor at Laval University
Belkacemi was an expert in agri-food and soil engineering at Laval University, in Quebec City. He had studied both in Canada as well as Algeria, and got his PhD at Sherbrooke University. It’s been reported that the suspect also attended the university for anthropology and political science.
“Our university community is in mourning today,” rector Denis Briere said in a statement. “We mourn the death of an esteemed member of the faculty and the university, a devoted and beloved man of his colleagues and students.”
“He wouldn’t have hurt anyone,” Mohamed Labidi, vice-president at the mosque where the attack took place, told the Toronto Star. “He was so kind and gentle.”
According to another colleague who spoke with the Toronto Star, Belkacemi was married to another professor in the department and had three children.
Abdelkrim Hassen, IT worker for the government
Witnesses say that Hassen was shot and killed in the mosque, and has left behind his wife and two young children, including an infant, according to the Globe and Mail. Hassen had been working as an analyst-programmer for the Quebec government, and had previously worked in IT for the provincial police. His friend Abderrazak Reduane told the Globe he was a “peaceful, sensitive man. If he saw two people in a fistfight, he’d walk away.”
Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry
Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry, who were not related, were both from Guinea and lived in the same apartment building in Sainte-Foy, Moussa Sangaré told the Globe and Mail. The two, who were close friends and both came from large families, were visiting a friend who had recently lost his father, the Globe reported. After their visit, they made their way to the mosque. Ibrahima Barry, a father of five, worked for Quebec’s health insurance board. Mamadou Tanou Barry, a father of 2 young boys, worked in IT. He had been supporting his family in Guinea by sending money back since his father’s death a few years prior, and had recently welcomed his mother to live with him. In a statement, the Guinean government said its representatives in Canada “are actively engaged in meeting the families of our compatriots and expressing the support of the nation as a whole.”
Aboubaker Thabti, who came to Canada from Tunis, Tunisia in 2011, was dedicated to helping other newcomers, his friend told CTV, adding that he helped even him when he first arrived, giving him a place to crash for a few days and letting him borrow his car for job interviews. Thabti had two children. His son Mohamed told CTV his father was a “very, very good guy” who “helped everybody.”
Cover: Photo by Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press