This Imam Delivered A Remarkable Eulogy At The Funeral Of The Quebec City Mosque Shooting Victims

"Let's build on this negative and have a positive."

Two weeks ago, six men were fatally shot in a Quebec City mosque by a white supremacist in an incident that exposed a "strain of intolerance" that the country isn't always prone to acknowledging. On Friday, at a funeral for several of the victims, Imam Hassan Guillet delivered a remarkable eulogy that not only honored the victims' lives and mourned their deaths, but also displayed empathy towards the alleged perpetrator.

Guillet talked about the six victims, about their lives and their families left behind. "They had their dream to send their kids to school, to buy a house, to have a business and we have to continue their dreams. We have to continue their dreams the same way they extended their hands to the others. It is up to others to extend their hands toward them," Guillet said. "Now unfortunately, it is a little bit late. But not too late. The society that could not protect them, the society that could not benefit from their generosity still has a chance. The hands that didn't shake the hands of Khaled or Aboubaker or Abdelkrim or Azzedine or Mamadou or Ibrahima, that society can shake the hands of their kids."

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Then he spoke plainly about the outside factors that played a role in the attack — politicians and media outlets that played on division and anti-Muslim sentiment and society's refusal to acknowledge that these attitudes existed among them. Guillet said those who carry out these attacks don't live in a vacuum and that it isn't always an "isolated incident." 

In challenging others to recognize that what drove the suspect, Guillet expressed a stunning capacity for compassion. The alleged shooter, too, was a victim, Guillet said, adding: "Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head."

Guillet's eulogy, published in full by several media outlets, received widespread attention. Many lauded his remarks about the perpetrator — including J.K. Rowling, who called it "extraordinary and humane."

Guillet urged for a change in political rhetoric, in frenzied media coverage, and in society's refusal to confront its own ugliness. He commended some Canadian lawmakers' responses to the shooting and called for the country to act. 

"We should start changing words into actions. We should build on this tragedy," he said. "God gave us a lemon, let's make lemonade out of that. Let's make lemonade. Let's build on this negative and have a positive."

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