A Muslim’s memoir: honouring the mosque that knew injustice


author: mariam dini | contributor


Credit: Chris Schwarz via Government of Alberta

I heard the terrible news first thing Monday morning; I was shocked, but mostly terrified.

Sunday, January 29, a terrorist, 27-year-old scumbag Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire on innocent people hanging out at a mosque in Quebec City.

Six Muslim men died because of a hate crime in Quebec City in January, 2017. Terrorist attack, innocent people dead, hate crime, mass shooting, in Canada! I repeat this is in the 21st century, in Canada!

Call me crazy, but personally, I never thought I would be writing about a mass shooting, let alone a terrorist attack, in Canada. I am a 21-year-old black, Canadian, Muslim woman, and I honestly did not see this one coming, never imagined it, not even in my worst dreams.

I heard the terrible news first thing Monday morning; I was shocked, but mostly terrified. The people in Quebec were attacked only because they were Muslim. As a Muslim girl who wears a hijab (headscarf), for the first time in my entire life, I thought of my faith and the way I dress as a danger rather than a choice. I thought about every bad scenario and every way I could be attacked or killed. I thought about my mom and what might happen to her. I thought about all the evil looks I’ve ever received on the streets and saw them as death threats. I promise you I am not exaggerating. I, at the age of 21, have never been so terrified for my life after hearing bad news. The Quebec City attack tore me up personally, and I believe it did the same to most Canadians, too.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivered a formal statement Monday in the wake of the deadly shooting at the Quebec mosque.

“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge,” he said, and named the incident a “despicable act of terror” committed against Canada and all Canadians.

Trudeau, speaking to the country’s one million Muslims directly, reassured them of their valued place in the Canadian society.

“We are with you. Thirty-six million hearts are breaking with yours,” he said. “Know that we value you, you enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways. You’re home.”

Trudeau also urged all members of Canadian society not to be intimidated by the Quebec City shooting or those terrorists who use violence to drum in fear and division.

“They aim to divide us, to sow discord and plant hatred,” he said. “We will not close our minds. We will open our hearts.”

Trudeau’s statement was full of empathy and love, which encouraged people everywhere in Canada to participate in vigils for the victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting. Vigils were held across the country, and thousands of Canadians from all sorts of ethnicities and backgrounds participated and showed an immense amount of love and unity.

The Quebec City mosque shooting was indeed a horrible incident, but I believe that it showed Canadians’ and Canada’s true colors. We are full of love, empathy, compassion, and unity; Canadians, whether Christians, Muslims, or others, we love one another, and we care.

Am I still terrified? No, I’m not.

Do I believe that this is the end of hate crimes? No, I don’t.

Do I feel like Trump influenced this? Yes, I do.

But, I do believe that all these hate crimes and ugliness that is happening today in North America is the beginning of some serious change. And I’ll quote a dear friend of mine, Annie, who said, “Hopefully, in few years’ time, things will change in such a way that it cannot be changed back to a place of ugliness anymore.” And I firmly do believe in that; all this ugliness is only making us more empathetic, compassionate and loving; it is proving that love is the strongest power on earth and that love will win

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