By Barry Ellsworth
TRENTON, Canada (AA) – Thousands gathered Monday evening at a site in Quebec City to remember the six Muslims who were shot to death one year ago while at prayers in a local mosque.
It was the culmination of four days of events held in various communities across Canada to mark the deadly rampage unleashed at the Islamic Cultural Centre.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard were among the dignitaries who spoke and reflected upon the tragedy.
Trudeau released a statement earlier in the day.
“On this solemn occasion, I join Canadians across the country to remember and honor those who were taken from us too soon,” Trudeau said.
In addition to the six men killed, 19 were injured.
The victims were Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.
Andre Bissonnette is charged with their murders and the attempted murder of others who were shot but survived.
“Our thoughts are with the victims, their loved ones and all those who still live with the pain and trauma caused by the attack,” the prime minister said.
“This was a terrorist attack against all Canadians, meant to test our resolve and weaken our values.”
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a civil liberties and advocacy organization, had asked the federal government to declare Jan. 29 a national day of remembrance. But as of Monday, that had not been done.
“While we are disappointed at the lack of political courage that we have seen so far at the federal level, our efforts do not stop today, and we will keep calling on the government to take a firm stance by declaring January 29th as a National Day of Remembrance & Action on Islamophobia,” the NCCM said in a statement to Anadolu Agency.
“Our call was endorsed by over 70 organizations and dozens more community partners and allies. The call has also had the support of major organizations including Amnesty International, the Canadian Labour Congress, as well as interfaith allies like the Anglican Church and others. This signals that the momentum behind this call is strong, and continuing.”
The NCCM was also encouraged by the response of cities that had designated the day as one of remembrance, saying that “the groundswell of support for our call has been deeply heartening”.