'An exceptional night': Quebec City mosque hosts solidarity dinner

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'An exceptional night': Quebec City mosque hosts solidarity dinner

The Quebec City mosque targeted by a lone gunman this past January hosted a "dinner of hope" to honour the victims of the deadly shooting and show solidarity with their families. 

About 300 people gathered Friday evening at a hotel in the Sainte-Foy neighbourhood for the event that was organized by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre. 

Family members of the men who died in the shooting attended, as did some men who were injured.

Several public officials, such as Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume and federal MP Jean-Yves Duclos, who represents the riding of Québec, were also invited.

Mohamed Yangui, the president of the centre, described the event as an "exceptional night." 

The attack on the mosque happened just over two months ago.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, faces six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm in connection with the attack, in which six men died and 19 others were wounded.

Yangui said people are still terrified and psychologically scarred, and some of the families have been isolated since that night. He wanted to gather the community in a show of support. 

Ahmed Ech-chahedy was inside the mosque during the attack with his 8-year-old son. He was not injured. 

"We are here to help come together a bit to help change ideas," he said.

"It was a tragedy, but we are trying to forget. To pass through, that's why the people have organized a supper for everyone."

Ech-chahedy said he still sees images of that night when he closes his eyes. He asked his brother, who lives in Morocco, to come stay with him and help in his recovery.

Among the attendees was Said Akjour, who was shot in the arm during the mosque attack. He does physiotherapy three times a week, but he can't quite lift his arm above his shoulder yet. 

He appreciates the show of solidarity from people, which he says helps with the healing, "but at the same time there are people who are no longer there."

Joël Lightbound, federal MP for the riding of Louis-Hébert, said work needs to be done to make sure the community feels safe. 

"They need to feel this is their homes, they need love from this community and acceptance," he said, pointing to some of the events organized by Quebec City residents in the wake of the shooting as steps forward.