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

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

Peachland’s vaccination clinic was cancelled because according to the system, no one booked appointments. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
System ‘glitch’ causes Peachland vaccination clinic cancellation

The clinic will be back in Peachland on April 22 instead

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

A crossing guard stops traffic as students wearing face masks to curb the spread of COVID-19 arrive at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. A number of schools in the Fraser Health region, including Woodward Hill, have reported cases of the B.1.7.7 COVID-19 variant first detected in the U.K. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID-infected students in Lower Mainland schools transmitting to 1 to 2 others: data

Eight to 13 per cent of COVID cases among students in the Lower Mainland were acquired in schools, B.C. says

Most Read