Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](,dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Mohamed Yangui, president of the Centre culturel islamique de Quebec, is photographed near the mosque.

Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The mosque president walked into court, and averted his eyes from the man handcuffed in the prisoners' box who is accused of firing on worshippers after their evening prayers, killing six of them and leaving a community in turmoil.

Mohamed Yangui insisted on attending the court appearance on Thursday of Alexandre Bissonnette, the 27-year-old who faces six counts of first-degree murder in the January shooting at Quebec's Grand Mosque. When Mr. Yangui entered the courtroom, the slightly built Mr. Bissonnette turned his head toward the door and followed Mr. Yangui with his eyes. Mr. Yangui did not return the gaze.

The Muslim community is still scarred from the attack, he said, unsettled by fears that people remain at physical risk in their house of worship.

Story continues below advertisement

"We are terrified," Mr. Yangui said to reporters outside court. "When I go to the mosque these days, I can't pray properly. I always have the feeling there's somebody behind me who will shoot me."

Sheema Khan: For Canada's Muslims, a moment for self-reflection

The court appearance by Mr. Bissonnette was brief – it lasted about six minutes – and took place after intense security procedures requiring visitors to empty their purses and pockets and pass through a metal detector. Mr. Bissonnette, who also faces five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted firearm, changed lawyers and will be represented by a legal-aid team.

The former Laval University political-science student, dressed in a loose black sweatshirt, appeared alert and scanned the public-seating area several times from his glassed-in enclosure.

As the legal process slowly continues, the Muslim community struggles with the shooting's aftermath. Mr. Yangui said one young girl insists on sleeping with the clothing of her father, who was killed in the assault. Worshippers at the mosque are careful to keep their sons close by when they attend prayer services.

The mosque has also formed groups to keep watch while others pray.

Members of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec have been in touch at least three times with provincial police, once to report a threatening letter and twice when suspicious men have shown up at the mosque. Mr. Yangui noted that mosque members had spotted Mr. Bissonnette several times before the Jan. 29 shooting.

Story continues below advertisement

"We have become more vigilant," he said.

Mr. Yangui said he hopes the Crown will follow through with terrorism-related charges against Mr. Bissonnette.

"We've got six dead. We've got 17 orphans. We've got six widows. We've got 39 survivors who aren't living their lives normally," Mr. Yangui said. "We've got a very heavy toll."

One man, Aymen Derbali, remains in intensive care with a bullet lodged in the back of his neck, and another man injured in the rampage was readmitted to hospital this week, the mosque president said.

While political figures called the mosque rampage a terrorist act, Mr. Bissonnette has not been charged with terrorism-related offences. Police continue their investigation.

Jean-Félix Charbonneau, a lawyer who is part of a team giving pro-bono legal support to the Muslim cultural centre, says prosecutors have to prove offences meet the legal definition of terrorism to lay such charges. That includes searching for clues from such things as Mr. Bissonnette's computer as well as his social and family life that might offer evidence "related to his intentions," Mr. Charbonneau said.

Story continues below advertisement

The next court date has been set for May 29 to allow the Crown to complete its disclosure of evidence. The Crown said Mr. Bissonnette will not need to be present for his next court date.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to
Comments are closed

We have closed comments on this story for legal reasons or for abuse. For more information on our commenting policies and how our community-based moderation works, please read our Community Guidelines and our Terms and Conditions.

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies