Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Light in the Darkness
The Council of Canadians was honoured to partner with artists Melisse Watson and Syrus Marcus Ware to create these portraits to commemorate the six victims of the attack on a mosque in Quebec City on January 29 2017
Domestic terrorism. A generation ago - ten years ago? - this term would have been unfamiliar to many of us, but we are certainly aware of it today. In places around the world, including cities in Asia and Europe terrorism happens close to home, in subways and hotels, in market squares and on bridges. The defining domestic terror event in the United States was 911, the explosions in New York and elsewhere which put that nation on high alert and led it into two messy, lengthy wars.
In Canada we have been largely spared from domestic terror with a couple of attempts thwarted. The incident which comes to mind readily is the attack on parliament hill which resulted in the death of Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a ceremonial sentry. The perpetrator was himself killed in a wild shootout in the centre block of the parliament buildings while our legislators huddled in hiding. It was a terrible event motivated by a mentally ill man with tenuous ties to Islam.
What is the worst incident of domestic terrorism? Surely it was the attack on a mosque a year ago yesterday in Quebec City. Six worshippers were shot dead by a gunman and another left paralyzed. This was not an ISIS member killing in perverted loyalty to Allah. A Caucasian, home-grown Canadian murdered innocent people with families because of their religion.
Yesterday a somber memorial was held in Quebec City to acknowledge this heinous act. Members of the families of the dead spoke about their loss, and the injured survivor was present. It was important to shine this light in the darkness. While there was an outpouring of support for Muslims in Quebec following the massacre the incidents of Islamophobia in the province have actually been on the rise in the past twelve months, and mosques have been the targets of racist graffiti and slurs. A community turned down the establishment of a Muslim cemetery.
This memorial and others were an important reminder that love is the answer to hatred. Christians groups have been in solidarity with the Muslim community in Quebec in the past year as have Jews and other religious groups. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was there to once again affirm a Canada which is inclusive and upholds religious freedom. Children at a nearby public school created messages of peace which were attached to the windows looking toward the mosque. There was also an interfaith service on Sunday which brought people together from different faiths.
We can pray that this sort of domestic terrorism never happens again for any reason. And we can all work toward common understanding, respect, and the love which is at the heart of our various faiths.