The Council of Canadians was honoured to partner with artists Melisse Watson and Syrus Marcus Ware to create these portraits to commemorate the six victims of the attack on a mosque in Quebec City on January 29 2017: Azzeddine Soufiane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Ibrahima Barry and Abdelkrim Hassane. Please share them in order to remember these lives lost and to fight for a world free of Islamophobia and white supremacy. (Full size images here).
On January 29, 2017, at 7:52pm, a young white man entered a mosque in Quebec City in Canada and over the course of a few minutes murdered six people.
See their faces. Say their names.
Mamadou Tanou Barry
Nineteen people were injured, including five who suffered serious injuries: Aymen Derbali, Said El-Amari, Mohamed Khabar, Nizar Ghlai and Said Akjour.
This was the largest political mass shooting in Canada in 25 years, and the first time Muslims had been killed inside a mosque in North America.
Today, on the two year anniversary of this attack, of this terrible act of Islamophobic violence, it is vital that we not only commemorate these lives lost but also reflect on how we are all responsible for resisting Islamophobia in Canada, in all of its forms.
This attack should not be understood as the isolated actions of a lone wolf but instead as having taken place within the context of decades of wars against Muslim-majority countries, state policy which has normalized the killing of millions of Muslims.
Within Canada, in the two years since the attack, Islamophobia has been further fueled by both the rise of the far right as well as the election of right-wing governments that advance anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant values and policies, while emboldening extremist white supremacist groups.
This dehumanization has resulted in real and violent consequences for Muslims in Canada. In November, Statistics Canada released the police-reported hate crime statistics for 2017, revealing a 47% increase in hate crimes in Canada, especially those targeting Muslim, Jewish and Black populations. While hate crimes increased across the board, Muslims specifically experienced the highest increase in hate crimes, with the number more than doubling in 2017.
In this context, grassroots and community-led organizing against Islamophobia, white supremacy, and all forms of racist hate is not just important, but vital. Everywhere white supremacists rise and mobilize we must continue to shut them down.
Melisse Watson, one of the two artists who created the portraits of the victims explains: “Together we will find a way to continue to work towards the futures we imagine, even when grief and pain and loss ask us to see them, to stop to witness them, hope for their freedom, and hold ceremony so that they will be honoured and remembered. Together we will find a way.”
- Info on vigils you can attend and how to sign on to the campaign to have January 29th designated a national day of remembrance and action on Islamophobia available here.
- #RememberJan29 was created as a forum to support people in building a web of common experience, connecting the public to the moment of the attack and to each other. The project’s website explains that “to #RememberJan29 is to insist that what happened on January 29th is not resolved, and won’t simply be resolved with a trial. It is ongoing, it has broader implications and it must be understood for all its complexity”. Remember and participate here.
- Read more about Islamophobia in Canada via this resource list.