An overall view of the funeral for Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi and Aboubaker Thabti, three of the six victims of the Quebec City mosque shooting, at the Maurice Richard Arena in Montreal, Thursday, February 2, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
MONTREAL — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has told a funeral service for three of the six men shot to death in a Quebec City mosque that all of Canada has been shaken by what he calls a brutal and hateful attack.
But Trudeau says Canada has united in its solidarity for the Muslim community in the wake of the atrocities.
"It is with a heavy heart that we come together this afternoon to grieve the loss of these innocent lives. But as a community and as a country, together we will rise from this darkness stronger and more unified than ever before — that is who we are," he told the solemn crowd.
Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi and Aboubaker Thabti were devoted fathers who worked hard to ensure their families had a bright future — a dream Canadians across the country have known and shared for generations, Trudeau said.
Several thousand mourners are on the floor and in the stands of the Maurice-Richard Arena to pay their respects to Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi and Aboubaker Thabti.
The caskets for the three men are draped in wreaths and the flags of their homelands.
Thabti, 44, was a pharmacist of Tunisian origin who had three children; Belkacemi, a 60-year-old father of two, was from Algeria and was a professor at Universite Laval; and Hassane, 41, was from Algeria. He was a father of three and worked in information technology for the provincial government.
There will also be prayers at the service for the three other victims — Azzeddine Soufiane, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume are also among those who will speak to the mourners.
Another ceremony is expected in Quebec City on Friday.
Fazle Ahmad, who waited patiently outside the hockey arena for the doors to open, said before going in that Canada has a good image but that "this terrorist act has tarnished that."
"We want to show that Canada is (like) a big family ... I hope that we will make our country much better than before," said Ahmad, who works at Montreal's Khadijah Centre.
Asma Qureshi and Assad Khan brought their young children to the funeral, believing the experience of seeing the community come together would be beneficial to them.
"We also want to show that a few bad apples in the community are not going to bring us apart," said Qureshi.
"And for the kids to see as well that we get together for times like this and how beautiful this community is and that we're there for each other."
The bright light in the tragedy is how Canadians have reacted and come together, she said.
The six victims, aged between 39 and 60, were killed when a gunman stormed the mosque and opened fire on men who were attending prayer. Authorities have refused to specify what type of firearm was used in the mass shooting.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, was arrested Sunday night following the massacre in which 19 people were also wounded, including two who were still in critical condition on Tuesday.
On Monday, Bissonnette was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder using a restricted firearm.
The Canadian Press