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

Just Posted

A young couple walks through the Othello Tunnels just outside of Hope. (Jessica Peters/Black Press)
Hope’s Othello Tunnels fully open to the public

Geological testing proved the area safe enough to open for the first time in more than a year

The Abbotsford International Airshow is back for 2021 with the ‘SkyDrive’ concept.
Abbotsford International Airshow returns for 2021 with ‘SkyDrive’

New format features a drive-in movie type experience, show set for Aug. 6 to 8

.
Fraser Health monitors long-term care vaccination rates amid local COVID-19 outbreak

COVID-19 transmission has largely been on the decline in Agassiz-Harrison

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Raeya Evie Duncan was the 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital for the month of May. She is seen here with her parents Alysha Williams and Andrew Duncan on June 12, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Baby boom in Chilliwack as record number of infants born at CGH in May

‘COVID babies are coming out,’ says dad of 100th baby born at Chilliwack General Hospital last month

Maxwell Johnson is seen in Bella Bella, B.C., in an undated photo. The Indigenous man from British Columbia has filed complaints with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal and the Canadian Human Rights Commission after he and his granddaughter were handcuffed when they tried to open a bank account. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Heiltsuk Nation, Damien Gillis, *MANDATORY CREDIT*
VIDEO: Chiefs join human rights case of Indigenous man handcuffed by police in B.C. bank

Maxwell Johnson said he wants change, not just words, from Vancouver police

Tk’emlups te Secwepemc Chief Rosanne Casimir stands outside the former Kamloops Indian Residential School after speaking to reporters, in Kamloops, B.C., on Friday, June 4, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Kamloops chief says more unmarked graves will be found across Canada

Chief Rosanne Casimir told a virtual news conference the nation expects to release a report at the end of June

A woman wears a vaccinated sticker after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. ranks among highest in world in COVID-19 first-dose shots: health officials

More than 76% of eligible people have received their 1st shot

A screenshot of the First Peoples Cultural Councils First Peoples’ Map. (First Peoples Cultural Council)
Online resource blends B.C.-Alberta’s Indigenous languages, art and culture

Advisor says initiative supports the urgent need to preserve Indigenous languages

An artists conception of the new terminal building at the Pitt Meadows Regional Airport.
Air travel taking off in B.C., but lack of traffic controllers a sky-high concern

There will be demand for more air traffic controllers: Miller

Canadian Armed Forces experts are on their way to North Vancouver after a local homeowner expressed worry about a military artifact he recently purchased. (Twitter DNV Fire and Rescue)
Military called in to deal with antique ‘shell’ at North Vancouver home

‘The person somehow purchased a bombshell innocently believing it was an out-of-commission military artifact’

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz have set their wedding date for February, hoping that more COVID-19 restrictions will have lifted. (The Macleans)
B.C. couples ‘gambling’ on whether COVID rules will let them dance at their wedding

Amy Kobelt and Tony Cruz pushed back their wedding in hopes of being able to celebrate it without the constraints of COVID-19

A plane is silhouetted as it takes off from Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C., May 13, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Report calls for airlines to refund passengers for flights halted due to COVID-19

Conclusion: federal help should be on the condition airlines immediately refund Canadian travellers

Most Read