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MPP, imam praise Belleville’s response to Quebec City shootings

By Joseph Carin [1] and Bradley Bennett  [2]

BELLEVILLE — The recent candlelight vigil [3] in Belleville in solidarity with the six victims [4] killed in a shooting at a Quebec City mosque was a humbling and moving experience, MPP Todd Smith says.

The support of the Belleville community was felt by the members of the local Islamic Society as hundreds of people gathered at the mosque at 33 Moira St. W. to march down Front Street shoulder to shoulder.


Members of the Belleville community came by the hundreds to stand alongside the Islamic Society of Belleville. Photo by Jaykob Storey, QNetNews

“Because of the (cold) temperature that night, you did not know what the turnout was going to look like,” Smith told QNet News afterward. “But it was quite humbling as the member of provincial parliament who represents the city of Belleville to look out and see Market Square packed.

“We have seen these tragic type of events happen elsewhere around the world, but for it to hit so close to home in Quebec City, a place where our kids go every year in Grade 8, … is truly impactful on both Muslim and non-Muslim Canadians.”

Smith emphasized the importance of remembering and humanizing the six victims: Khaled Belkacemi, Azzedine Soufiane, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Abdelkrim Hassane, and Ibrahima Barry. They were Canadians as well as Muslims, he said.

“These were six members of the local Muslim community in Quebec City; but they were also husbands, fathers, uncles and friends within the broader Quebec community.”

The iman of the Islamic Society of Belleville [6], Mohammad Saleh, attended the vigil and spoke to the crowd. In an interview with QNetNews, Saleh urged others to reserve any malice or judgment that they may feel.


Mohammad Saleh, the iman of the Islamic Society of Belleville, spoke with QNetNews about the turnout at the recent vigil. Photo by Joseph Carin, QNetNews

“Don’t judge the Islamic religion through me, or through the Muslim population. If you want to judge anything, first you must go through the constitution of the Islamic faith. If I wish to judge Christianity as a whole I do not understand it through a single follower or somebody who claims to be a follower; I go through the book, whether that be the Qur’an or the constitution of the country.”

Saleh expressed his appreciation for the large turnout of people showing solidarity with the local Muslim community saying. While Belleville is not a very big city, and the weather was very cold that night, “so many turned out and showed us how much you love and care for us,” he said.

“All mankind came from the same source. We are the children of Adam and Eve, no matter your race, no matter your colour, nationality or language; our father and mother are one. We are all brothers and sisters,” said Saleh.