This Quebec Mosque Shooting Victim Saved Lives. Now People Want To Buy Him A New Home.

"I would rather have been paralyzed for life than to have fled and been left unscathed, without having done something to help people."

When a gunman entered a mosque in Quebec last January and began firing at worshippers, Aymen Derbali diverted the gunman's attention and potentially saved many lives. As a result of his heroic actions, Derbali was shot seven times and left and paralyzed from the shoulders down. Now, many of those who are grateful for his life-saving quick thinking are pitching in to buy Derbali a new home that will accommodate his disability.

After spending two months in a coma, Derbali has endured months of physically therapy and is still getting accustomed to his new life in a wheelchair as he continues to receive treatment in a medical center in Quebec. "I never knew what it felt like to get shot," he told The Globe and Mail. "Now I'm living in a body that feels like it's not mine. The last steps I took were in the mosque."

As for how he diverted the gunman's attention, likely saving lives? "I tried not to panic or flee," Derbali told the publication. "I tried to concentrate so that he wouldn't fire on others. I would rather have been paralyzed for life than to have fled and been left unscathed, without having done something to help people."


Still, despite his heroism, Derbali's actions remain largely uncelebrated and now he and his family must find a new place to live since their fourth-floor apartment can't accommodate the 41-year-old's wheelchair. Finding a new place to live is difficult under any circumstances, but it's especially hard since Derbali can no longer work and his wife is caring for the couple's three children.

With all of that in mind, those in Derbali's community have started a crowdfunding campaign in an effort to raise money to buy the family a new and suitable home. "He is a father of three and currently lives in an apartment that is inaccessible to his needs," the LaunchGood page says of Derbali. "He is only able to spend one day a week with his family because his home is inaccessible. With an accessible home, he will finally be able to come home to his wife and children."

Though a suitable home has been found, it still needs to be approved by Derbali's doctor.

So far, nearly $57,000 of the requested $400,000 CAD — the amount of money it will take to purchase the home and modify it accordingly — has been raised. "Aymen Derbali risked his life, to save lives," the page adds, asking for additional donations. "This was an act of faith and pure selflessness." 

According to BuzzFeed News, the fundraising effort was in part organized by Tariq Syed, who works with the Muslim organization, DawaNet, and has visited with Derbali and the community several times since the attack that took six lives. "He's in desperate need of a place where he can move in," Syed told the outlet of Derbali. "Once they discharge him, he will not have a place."

And while there is still plenty of money to be raised, Syed is confident the goal will be met. "One thing we learned is how Canadians come together when someone is in need," he explained to BuzzFeed. "It doesn't matter what faith background, what culture, what race they come from."


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