As we commemorate the fourth anniversary of the Quebec City mosque shooting, we can turn to documentary film as a powerful medium of remembrance and dialogue. THE MOSQUE: A COMMUNITY’S STRUGGLE by filmmaker Ariel Nasr offers a vital glimpse at the resilience of a Muslim community in Ste-Foy, Québec in the aftermath of January 29th, 2017 when a white man entered a mosque in Ste-Foy in the midst of evening prayers and killed six people, injuring and paralyzing others.
Premiered in January 2020 in Quebec City and Montreal, Nasr’s film poses urgent questions about Islamophobia and the government’s continued denial of systemic racism in Quebec. As Quebec Premier Francois Legault continues to issue public statements denying the issue of system racism in the province, THE MOSQUE reignites essential conversation around the politicization of community trauma.
Since Bill 21 and Bill 9 came into force in Quebec, the repressive nature of the Coalition Avenir du Quebec’s version of secularism (laïcité) has shown to disproportionately target Muslims, alongside Sikh and Jewish communities. The legacy of the Quebec City mosque shooting is situated within a broader picture of Islamophobia and growing streams of far-right nationalism that reach across North America. The shock of the massacre is compounded by the continued denial of the severity of organized, armed white supremacists in the province, while Muslim communities continue to be targeted by state surveillance.
As the province unites around the Ste-Foy Muslim community in another year of remembrance, we also hold space for a more hopeful future that Nasr’s sensitive film invokes—one that is based on unity, not fear.