On the night of Jan. 29, members of the Centre Culturel Islamique Québec gathered inside Quebec City’s largest mosque for the most important prayer of the day. At just around 7:50 p.m., a gunman entered and immediately opened fire, tragically killing six men and wounding 19 people. “There was a world before January 29,” said Ramzi Khemiri, a former mosque administrator, “and there is a world after.”
Witnesses say that Azzeddine Soufiane, who owned a halal grocery store, attempted to stop the gunman. “He threw himself to stop the shooter and protect other victims at the same time,” said Rachid Aoume, Soufiane’s brother-in-law, who watched the scene from the front of the prayer room. “At that moment, he got shot. Then he got shot once more as he was lying on the ground.” Tragically, Mr. Soufiane died that night, protecting his friends and loved ones.
In order to shine a light on the horror that had taken place, mosque leaders have opened their doors to reporters. “ We’re showing these images so that people who try to sow hate and increase Islamophobia stop,” said the mosque’s vice-president, Mohamed Labidi, as he stood in the prayer room. “Hate can lead to carnage, to the loss of innocent life, and that’s what happened in this mosque.”