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Vol. 81/No. 6      February 13, 2017

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Workers mobilize solidarity against deadly assault in Quebec mosque

Militant/Maggie Trowe
Socialist Workers Party candidate for New York mayor, Osborne Hart, center, and Communist League candidate for Montreal mayor, Philippe Tessier, right, visited memorial, above, to victims of mosque shooting, and went house to house talking with workers in Quebec City Jan. 31.
QUEBEC CITY — A steady stream of people came by the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre and mosque here Jan. 31 to offer support for the Muslim community two days after a gunman attacked worshipers gathered for evening prayers, killing six and leaving 19 injured, five critically. They joined in discussing and debating what led to the attack and what to do about it.

Expressions of solidarity have poured out to the Muslim community. The night before thousands of people had come to a government-backed vigil here, thousands attended one in Montreal and similar actions took place across the country.

Police have charged Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student at Laval University with a record of anti-immigrant online posts, with six counts of first-degree murder.

While we were here, a Quebec-born nurse from a nearby hospital stopped by to light a candle and add it to the growing mass of messages of solidarity, candles and flowers in front of the mosque. A Guatemalan-born truck driver came straight from work to place flowers at the site. A Moroccan-born worker who had grown up in the area told the Militant he knew several of the victims.

Those killed were Karim Hassane, 41, an Algerian-born information analyst for the Quebec provincial government; Azzedine Soufiane, 57, a Moroccan-born owner of a small butcher shop; Aboubaker Thabti, 44, a pharmaceutical worker born in Tunisia; Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, an accountant who hailed from Guinea; Ibrahima Barry, 39, also Guinean, who worked for Revenu Quebec; and Khaled Belkacemi, 60, an Algerian-born professor of agricultural science at the University of Laval.

Osborne Hart, Socialist Workers Party candidate for mayor of New York, traveled to Montreal to join Philippe Tessier, Communist League candidate for mayor of Montreal, at the Jan. 30 Montreal vigil. Both came here the next day to show solidarity and join supporters knocking on doors in the surrounding working-class Sainte-Foy neighborhood. They distributed a statement issued by Tessier and Katy LeRougetel, Communist League candidate for mayor of Calgary, Alberta, condemning the attack (see below).

“I had to come to pay my respects,” Rollande Veilleux, a nurse, told Tessier and Hart outside the mosque. “When I went back to college after my kids grew up, I studied with several Muslim students. We helped each other on the tests and got very close.” The Montreal vigil and others around the country were backed by the government of Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who claims “all Canadians” stand together, Tessier said.

“But this attack and others on Muslims and mosques — from Calgary to Sept-Iles — are the inevitable consequence of the climate created by the capitalist rulers in Canada and their government,” he said, quoting from the statement he and LeRougetel put out. “They promote anti-Muslim hysteria to serve their war aims and to justify spying on mosques and Muslims.”

Veilleux took a copy of the statement and bought a copy of the Militant.

Attacks on Muslims in Canada more than doubled from 2012 to 2014. A mosque in Lévis, a nearby suburb, closed for two days after the attack. Members of the mosque in the Montreal suburb of Dorval have organized volunteers in a nightly patrol since 2008, when the mosque was vandalized in the first of nine attacks.

“I walked by the vigil at the mosque last night,” Tristan Rondeau, a university student, told Hart when he knocked on his door. “It was good to see such an outpouring of solidarity, and signs like ‘Muslim Lives Matter.’”

“I was at the vigil in Montreal last night, together with Philippe Tessier and his supporters,” Hart told Rondeau. “We came to offer our solidarity and to discuss our program for a way forward for working people out of the crisis of the capitalist system.”

Rondeau told Hart he works at McDonald’s and paints houses to get by, while he is also a student. “Workers have to take on multiple jobs to survive in the U.S. too,” Hart said. “Our sister parties in both countries campaign to help build a movement of working people capable of taking power out of the hands of the capitalists, whose system breeds horrors like the killings here.” Rondeau and his roommate both signed up to get Militant articles in French.

Quebec City factory worker Karine Morissette read the Communist League statement. She said she liked it, but told Tessier she thought it would be difficult to make the kinds of changes he proposed.

“The biggest challenge for the working class is to overcome what the capitalists tell us, that we can’t do anything to change things,” Tessier said.

He pointed to the example of the Cuban Revolution, which involved the vast majority of working people there. “The Cuban workers and farmers overthrew the dictatorship of capital and built a new society based on values of human solidarity, totally different from the dog-eat-dog society we live in,” he said.

Tessier told her about The Working Class and the Transformation of Learning: The Fraud of Education Reform Under Capitalism, a pamphlet by Socialist Workers Party National Secretary Jack Barnes. “He describes how education, like other institutions under capitalism, is organized to shore up the crisis-wracked system. To transform work and make lifetime learning a possibility for all is a good reason to make a socialist revolution,” he said.

“I agree we have to build that kind of movement,” Morissette told the communist candidate.
Related articles:
100s protest attack on Islamic Center in Davis, Calif.
Communist League protests Canada mosque attack
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