Quebec City, Canada – Mohamed Labidi stops under the archway, his feet on the edge of the rich red carpet that extends across the main prayer room of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center. “He did not cross this line,” says Labidi. “He always fired from here.”
Labidi was not at the mosque when a gunman shot into this room from the exact spot where the Muslim community leader is now standing. But he knows where worshipers took cover, where survivors were injured, and where victims were fatally gunned down. The date it all happened – January 29, 2017 – remains etched in his mind.
“That’s the spot where people were hiding,” Labidi tells Al Jazeera, pointing to the mihrab, an enclave used by the imam to lead prayers. “Brother Hassane, he fell here,” he says, walking across the room, before pausing at another corner: “Brother Thabti, he fell near that post.”
Alexandre Bissonnette’s deadly rampage inside Quebec City’s largest mosque lasted less than two minutes. But by the time he finished firing dozens of rounds into the house of worship, six men were dead, five others were seriously injured, and the city’s tight-knit Muslim community found itself at the forefront of a national debate around hate-fueled violence.
“All that,” says Labidi, “in two minutes.”