On January 29, 2017, at 7:52 p.m., a young white man entered a mosque in Quebec City in Canada and over the course of a few minutes murdered Azzeddine Soufiane, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Ibrahima Barry and Abdelkrim Hassane. Five others were badly injured: Aymen Derbali, Said El-Amari, Mohamed Khabar, Nizar Ghlai and Said Akjour.
This was the largest political mass shooting in Canada in 25 years, and the first time Muslims had been killed inside a mosque in North America. As we approach the one year anniversary of this attack, this terrible act of Islamophobic violence, it is vital that we commemorate these lives lost and reflect on how we are all responsible for resisting Islamophobia in Canada, in all of its forms.
#RememberJan29 was created as a forum to support people in building a web of common experience, connecting the public to the moment of the attack and to each other. The project's website explains that "to #RememberJan29 is to insist that what happened on January 29 is not resolved, and won't simply be resolved with a trial. It is ongoing, it has broader implications and it must be understood for all its complexity." This attack should not simply be understood as the action of a random lone wolf but instead "happened in the context of decades of wars against Muslim-majority countries, which has normalized the killing of millions of Muslims. This dehumanization has resulted in the rate of attacks on Muslims inside Canada increasing 253 per cent between 2012 and 2015." It is because of this larger context that it is crucial that all Canadians participate in #RememberJan29 and take action to address the Islamophobia that continues to grow in this country.
Melisse Watson, one of the two artists who created the portraits of the victims explains: "Together we will find a way to continue to work towards the futures we imagine, even when grief and pain and loss ask us to see them, to stop to witness them, hope for their freedom, and hold ceremony so that they will be honoured and remembered. Together we will find a way."
Vigils, rallies, film screenings and actions have been announced in 15 cities across Canada and the list is growing. Find an event near you or organize your own: https://goo.gl/aTBqg3.
This story originally appeared on The Council of Canadians blog.
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