Local Muslim sees outpouring of support in wake of shooting

Saanich Muslim ‘absolutely shocked’ by murder of six people in Quebec mosque

Hundreds of people flock to the front of Victoria’s City Hall to show support for the Muslim community following a deadly shooting at a mosque in Quebec City Sunday night that claimed the lives of six people.

A prominent local Muslim says he is overwhelmed by the show of support following the attack on a Quebec Mosque that killed six and injured 19 others.

“I just received flowers from one of my customers,” said Yasser Youssef, owner of the Fig Deli on Cedar Hill, Tuesday morning.

On Sunday night, a man had walked into the Culturel Islamique de Quebec in suburban Quebec City during evening prayers and killed six worshippers.

Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old resident of Cap-Rouge, has since been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm.

Less than 48 hours after what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called “a terrorist attack on Muslims,” Youssef still sounded raw.

Youseff said what happened in Quebec has “absolutely shocked” him and he does not hesitate identifying whom he believes ultimately bears responsibility for the events.

“The shooter there is [U.S. President] Donald Trump and nobody else,” he said.

Youseff said Trump’s view about immigration, Islam and Muslims provided the intellectual licence that led to Sunday’s attack. This said, the outpouring of sympathy following Sunday’s shooting has been overwhelming and speaks to inclusiveness of Canadians.

“They are feeling the pain and they are expressing their views [about the incident],” said Youssef. “It’s just a show of love and support. They are showing their love and their support.”

The incident coincided with growing global outrage over an executive order signed by Trump that denies citizens of seven majority Muslim countries (Iran, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia and Libya) entry in the United States for at least three months. The order also bars all refugees from entering the United States for at least 120 days and indefinitely block Syrian refugees from entering the country. U.S. officials said the ban will help the United States fight terrorism. Critics, however, argue that the ban is ineffective and discriminates against Muslims by virtue of their religion.

The execution of the ban has been rife with confusion, sparked protests inside and outside of the United States and stoked fears of a climate increasingly hostile towards Muslims.

Holding both Canadian and Lebanese citizenship, Yousseff does not fall into the categories that the executive order identifies. But Youssef remains weary and he has cancelled an upcoming family trip to Hawaii.

“We are definitely not going,” he said.

Youssef gained some public recognition last year, when he helped Syrian refugees feel more welcome in the Greater Victoria area by preparing baskets filled with foods from their home country such as olive oil, baladi bread and flavourful dips for them.

While Youssef’s engagement for his fellow Muslims earned him derision, if not hostility from some, voices of inclusion and tolerance far outweighed them.

“Within the community, it’s all positive. But yes, there are misconceptions about Islam.”

A critic of excessive, in-your-face piety,Youssef says Islam is a religion of peace and understanding.

Hundreds gathered outside Victoria’s City Hall Tuesday to show support for the Muslim community in the wake of the Quebec.

Victoria Masjid Al-Iman mosque Imam Ismail Mohamed Nur was one of those gathered. He said he never imagined such an attack would ever happen in Canada.

“You hear about these kinds of things happening elsewhere … so it was received with great sadness,” said Nur, noting the support from the community gives him “great hope” as safety fears grow due to the rise of Islamophobia.

“It reassures our community that we are part of the larger community in Victoria and Canada and it takes away some of that worry that we have.”


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