As Salam Alaikum (peace be upon you)
Honourable Senators, I rise before you today in shock, sadness and horror over the massacre which took place at the Islamic Cultural Centre on Sunday in Quebec City.
In a targeted act of terror and hatred, six innocent people lost their lives in their place of worship: Khaled Belkacemi 60, Azzedine Soufiane 57, Aboubaker Thabti 44, Abdelkrim Hassane 41, Mamadou Tanou Barry 42, and Ibrahima Barry 39.
Additionally, nineteen innocent people were wounded, five of them critically. The victims were shot as they prayed. They were killed because they were Muslim.
In the wake of this event, our country, including our politicians, have stood together in solidarity as fellow human beings to condemn this horrific act of cowardly violence and hatred.
We have also witnessed an immense outpouring of compassion and unity from citizens across our country who have sent a very strong message: When you harm one community, you harm all communities.
As a Muslim Canadian, I have never faced fear for my life because of my religion. I have never had to hide and pray, because in Canada everyone has the fundamental right of freedom of religion. As a country, we are not about hate and division. We strive to be about love and inclusion. This is the Canadian way, as I have always known it.
This tragedy, however, has been a somber reminder that there are those who seek to divide us, and that although we are an inclusive society that values diversity, we are not immune to acts of terror.
In this regard, I reflect upon the Quran which tells us that in times of hardship we must demonstrate patience and pray. I hope the Muslim community continues to fill our Mosques and will not be deterred by fear.
Honourable Senators, we must be vigilant with our dialogue in the days and months to come. We must speak out in the strongest of terms against this, and all acts, that seek to pit one against the other.
Our message must be clear: Those who seek to divide us will not succeed.
In the words of the Director General of Amnesty International Canada-Francophone: “Hate speech and Islamophobia are unacceptable and nurture violence. Let us show together, especially at the highest political level, that solidarity prevails and that respect for the rights of all people to live in security without discrimination is of the utmost importance to us.”
Honourable Senators, there is profound sorrow and anguish in my heart over this tragic and senseless loss of life and injury.
I extend a message of condolence and support to all of the families that have been affected by this tragedy. May peace be upon you in the name of God and his blessings.