Maghrebis faced with Quebec terror attack aftermath

Unlike those who migrate to Eu­rope, Maghrebi migrants to Canada have mainly been ambitious stu­dents, highly skilled professionals, intellectuals.

Tunisian PM Youssef Chahed (C) consoling wife and son of Boubaker Thabti who was killed in Canada mosque atack


2017/02/12 Issue: 93 Page: 1


The Arab Weekly
Lamine Ghanmi



Tunis - A bdelkrim Hassane left the warmth and comfort of his Berber village in northern Algeria to mi­grate to Canada in 2009 in the hope of securing a better fu­ture for his children.

Hassane was one of six Muslim worshippers killed January 29th in a Quebec City mosque allegedly by a 27-year-old Canadian Islamophobe. His body, alongside that of fellow Algerian Khaled Belkacemi, a chem­istry expert who was also killed in the attack, was flown to Algeria for burial on February 4th.

The bodies of Tunisian expatri­ate Boubaker Thabti and Moroccan Azzeddine Soufiane, also victims of the attack, were returned to their home countries the same day.

The six victims left behind 17 chil­dren in total.

It is not the first time that Maghreb migrants have died in ter­rorist attacks in recent years. Last year, they were among the victims of massacres in Paris and Nice.

This, however, was the first time people from the region have been killed in a terror attack in Canada.

The Quebec City attack ham­mered home the message that ter­rorism extends to all parts of the world. Canada’s reputation as a peaceful, tolerant society made it a top destination for migrants from the Maghreb who want their children to grow up outside the in­fluence of radical Islam and away from the increasingly tense climate caused by far-right populists in Eu­ropean societies.

Unlike those who migrate to Eu­rope, Maghrebi migrants to Canada have mainly been ambitious stu­dents, highly skilled professionals and intellectuals, who are especially in high demand in parts of Canada because of their fluency in French.

“It is not easy to die in a place where one came to seek peace,” Louisa Hassane, Abdelkrim’s wife, said before his burial.

Asked about her feelings towards her husband’s suspected killer, she said: “I harbour no hatred towards him. I have pity for this boy.”

Hassane and Belkacemi were from the same Berber region of Bejaia. They often crossed paths at Bab Ezzouar University in the out­skirts of Algiers.

They — along with the other vic­tims — will be missed.

“I told my daughters that their father is gone to the paradise,” said Louisa Hassane, “but I need my husband. I have three girls who are very young and need their father.”


Lamine Ghanmi is a veteran Reuters journalist. He has covered North Africa for decades and is based in Tunis.


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