TRENTON, Ont. (AA) — The country’s prime minister told thousands gathered Friday for a funeral service that the victims of Sunday’s mosque shooting would never be forgotten.
Justin Trudeau told reporters as he approached the site of the funeral at the Quebec City convention center that Canadians must remember the men “taken from us so brutally in the terrorist attack last Sunday,” CTV television news reported.
Six died and 19 were injured when a masked gunman entered the Quebec City mosque and opened fire.
The funeral service for three of the victims – Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane and Aboubaker Thabti – was held Thursday in Montreal and also drew thousands of mourners.
Friday, the service was held for Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry and Azzedine Soufiane.
“Over the past week we have been reminded multiple times of the warmth, of the strength, of the unity of Canadians,” Trudeau said to reporters. “And we’ve seen the silent majority of people who are good and welcoming and open to one another is choosing to be less and less silent.”
Trudeau also attended the Thursday service, where the message was one of tolerance, reported the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
“It is with a heavy heart that we come together this afternoon to grieve the loss of these innocent lives,” he told a packed hockey arena where the Montreal service was held. “But as a community and a country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before.”
Aziza Blili, head of the Federation des Canadiens Musulmans, said Canadians should see the attack as one of the dangers of Islamophobia.
“Sometimes bad things can lead to good results,” she said, as reported by the CBC. “The empathy shown by so many fellow Canadians comforts us, and allows us to hope that there will be real change.”
The Friday service began with a talk by Imam Hussein Guillet who vowed the attack would not force Muslims to change.
“Our mosques will remain open, and our children will continue to learn and recite the Koran,” he said. “Our children will continue to be honorable citizens in this country, as you were. We have chosen this society, and we ask that this society choose us and welcome us.”
Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was arrested Sunday night and has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.
Guillet said Bissonnette is one of the victims.
“Before he directed those bullets towards innocent people, he was on the receiving end of a bullet – a bullet of poisoned words that filled our hearts and poisoned our society,” he said.