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

The old home at 785 Island Rd. is coming down as the developer was unable to find a feasible business case to save it. (Black Press Media File Photo)
With no takers to move old Oak Bay home, teardown begins

‘We tried a last hurrah,’ developer says

Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches. (Black Press Media file photo)
Saanich Mayor Fred Haynes delivers the inaugural address at council’s swearing-in ceremony in November, 2018. The ceremony included blessings from representatives of two Christian churches – a fact highlighted in a report released by the BC Humanist Associaton on Tuesday. (Black Press Media file photo)
Christian-based prayer at inaugural Vancouver Island council meetings violates court ruling

Blessings violate Supreme Court decision that prayer in council is discriminatory

Bystanders attend to a cyclist who is knocked to the pavement of Oak Bay Avenue. Witnesses say the cyclist was knocked off their bike in a dooring incident on Oak Bay Avenue at Fell Street at around 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday. 
(Daniel Opden Dries Photo)
UPDATED: VicPD tickets driver for ‘dooring’ cyclist on Oak Bay Avenue

Incident occurred at Oak Bay Avenue and Fell Street

Jason Soukochoff is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant, say Victoria police. (Courtesy VicPD)
Victoria police seek man with violent criminal history against elderly

Jason Soukochoff wanted on Canada-wide warrant for parole violations

Leah Davis, store manager at Oscar & Libby’s in downtown Victoria, sets out stock at their Fort Street location. The pandemic has changed the way this retailer and others do business, says owner Teri Hustins. (Don Descoteau/News Staff)
Pandemic alters holiday business strategies for Victoria merchants

Many independent merchants count on holiday shopping to get them through quiet periods

A man wearing a face mask to help curb the spread of COVID-19 walks in downtown Vancouver, B.C., Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. The use of masks is mandatory in indoor public and retail spaces in the province. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. records deadliest day of pandemic with 13 deaths, 738 new COVID-19 cases

Number of people in hospital is nearing 300, while total cases near 30,000

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Nov. 24

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(AP Photo/Haven Daley)
POLL: Do you think the current COVID-19 restrictions should continue beyond Dec. 7?

One week into the new restrictions to curtail the spread of the… Continue reading

This undated photo issued by the University of Oxford shows of vial of coronavirus vaccine developed by AstraZeneca and Oxford University, in Oxford, England. (University of Oxford/John Cairns via AP)
Canada can make vaccines, just not the ones leading the COVID-19 race

Canada has spent more than $1 billion to pre-order seven different developing COVID-19 vaccines

British Columbia Premier John Horgan speaks during an announcement about a new regional cancer centre in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, Aug. 6, 2020. Horgan is set to introduce his NDP government’s new cabinet Thursday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Horgan’s NDP cabinet built to tackle pandemic, economic recovery, says former premier

Seven former NDP cabinet ministers didn’t seek re-election, creating vacancies in several high-profile portfolios

The COVID-19 test centre at Peace Arch Hospital is located on the building’s south side. (Tracy Holmes photo)
B.C. woman calls for consistency in COVID-19 post-test messaging

‘Could we just get one thing straight?’ asks Surrey’s Deb Antifaev

(File photo)
Alberta woman charged after allegedly hitting boy with watermelon at Okanagan campsite

Police say a disagreement among friends at an Adams Lake campsite turned ugly

Court of Appeal for British Columbia in Vancouver. (File photo: Tom Zytaruk)
B.C. woman loses appeal to have second child by using late husband’s sperm

Assisted Human Reproduction Act prohibits the removal of human reproductive material from a donor without consent

Most Read