Terror

Dignified and forgiving: Imam in eulogy for Quebec mosque victims — ‘The killer was a victim himself’

This Sunday, thousands attended a funeral service for three of the victims killed in the Quebec mosque attack.

Azzeddine Soufiane, a 57-year-old grocer; Mamadou Tanou Barry, a 42-year-old cosmetics company technician; and 39-year-old Ibrahima Barry, a health insurance worker, were among the six men killed when 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette opened fire at the mosque in Québec City. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has labeled the tragic event as a “terrorist attack.”

Below is a complete transcript provided by the CBC of Imam Hassan Guillet‘s eulogy to the crowd gathered at Quebec City Convention Center for the funeral:

“We are here to celebrate Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, Azzedine, Mamadou, Ibrahima.

We are going to have a prayer for those who could not finish their prayers. We pray for them.

Those [who] didn’t choose their place of birth.

I don’t think anyone in this hall selected their place of birth. And no one on the face of this earth selected their place of birth.

But Khaled, Aboubaker, Abdelkrim, Azzedine, Mamadou and Ibrahima they selected the place they wanted to live in. They selected the society they wanted to be their society.

They selected with whom they wanted their children to grow. And it was Canada. It was Quebec. It was the city of Quebec in the same way they selected Quebec.

They chose Quebec to live in, and they chose the Canadian passport.

It is up to the society to choose them the same way they have chosen this society.

They had their dream to send their kids to school, to buy a house, to have a business and we have to continue their dreams. We have to continue their dreams the same way they extended their hands to the others. It is up to others to extend their hands toward them.

Now unfortunately, it is a little bit late. But not too late.

The society that could not protect them, the society that could not benefit from their generosity still has a chance. The hands that didn’t shake the hands of Khaled or Aboubaker or Abdelkrim or Azzedine or Mamadou or Ibrahima, that society can shake the hands of their kids.

We have 17 orphans. We have six widows. We have five wounded.

We ask Allah for them to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible.

Did I go through the complete list of victims? No.

There is one victim. None of us want talk about him.

But given my age, I have the courage to say it. This victim, his name is Alexandre Bissonnette.

Alexandre, before being a killer he was a victim himself. Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.

This little kid didn’t wake up in the morning and say ‘Hey guys instead of going to have a picnic or watching the Canadians, I will go kill some people in the mosque.’ It doesn’t happen that way.

Day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians unfortunately, and certain reporters unfortunately, and certain media were poisoning our atmosphere.

We did not want to see it. We didn’t want to see it because we love this country, we love this society. We wanted our to society to be perfect. We were like parents, their kids [are] smoking or taking drugs and your neighbor says that your kid was taking drugs, I don’t believe it, my son is perfect.

We don’t want to see it. And we didn’t see it, and it happened.

Actually here my friends in Quebec, you know a couple of months ago, a certain period of time ago, someone came and put a head of a pig in front of the mosque.

The [person] responsible for the mosque they said ‘No, it was an isolated act.’ Nobody is against us and we aren’t against anybody. They acted very generously and I am proud of them and this is what it should be.

But there was a certain malaise. Let us face it. Alexandre Bissonnette didn’t start from a vacuum. For political reasons, and what is happening the Middle East and unfortunately, for ignorance, a lot of things happened.

This guy was empoisoned. But we want Alexandre to be the last one to have a criminal act like that. We want to stop it. One of the definitions of madness is to do exactly the same thing and expect a different result.

If we do exactly the same thing, my friends, we will have exactly the same result. Are we happy with the result? Are we happy with six dead, five wounded, 17 orphans, six widows and a destroyed family which is the family of Alexandre Bissonnette and maybe his friends too?

We don’t want that. So let us change. I am getting encouraged with what we have heard from our Prime Minister and Premier, from our mayor yesterday, from a lot of our leaders, I am very proud and I thank them, and I am not surprised.

But all I am saying, we should start changing words into actions. We should build on this tragedy.

God gave us a lemon, let’s make lemonade out of that. Let’s make lemonade. Let’s build on this negative and have a positive.

Let’s go from today to be a real society, united. The same way we are united today in our sorrow and in our pain, let us start today to be united in our dreams, our hopes and our plans for the future.

Let the future that our friends planned for their kids, let us build this future ourselves too. In this way we will respect their memory. Revenge will do nothing.

Like I said in Arabic, our prophet was persecuted, thrown out of his town. He was alone. Eight years after that he came back to this town with 10,000 people.

Less than two years after that, when he did the last pilgrimages in life, he was accompanied with 120,000 people. From where did these 120,000 people come from in a period of 10 years?

Not from the planet Mars. Not from another universe. It was the same people who were his enemies. The people who wanted to kill him. The people who were persecuting him and his friends and his sympathizers.

He transformed his enemies into his friends, into his followers. Now we don’t have enemies. I repeat we don’t have enemies. We have some people who don’t know us. It should be easier to explain to these people who do not know us, it is easier to let them know who we are.

Mr. Trudeau let me address you, you have your immigration minister here. He is Muslim like me. Is he different than the others? I don’t think so.

We are citizens like every other citizens. We have the same rights and we have the same obligations. We should build this country together.

In this way, we respect the memory of our dead. In this way, we take care of our orphans, in this way we will be good Muslims, we will be good Canadians, we will be good Quebecers.”

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