The generosity of the Quebec City eulogy

The families of the black parishioners murdered in Charleston, South Carolina were widely praised as exemplars of the Christian faith when they forgave the white supremacist Dylann Roof who killed their loved ones in the name of a race war. It showed a generosity of spirit that was almost hard to believe under the circumstances and was made all the greater for having been so violently unreciprocated by the murderer.
By rights, something similar would be said about Imam Hassan Guillet, whose eulogy — as reported by Slate but too few others — for the six murdered last week at a mosque in Quebec City by the white extremist Alexandre Bissonnette was remarkably inclusive and humanistic given that his community was explicitly targeted and a free-ranging fear of Muslims was recently sanctified by the presidential election in the US. It is worth reading in full at a time when we are being asked to define an “us” around racial and religious identity and deny to “them” basic constitutional protections:

We have 17 orphans. We have six widows. We have five wounded. We ask Allah for them to get them out of the hospital as soon as possible. Did I go through the complete list of victims? No. There is one victim. None of us want talk about him. But given my age, I have the courage to say it. This victim, his name is Alexandre Bissonnette. Alexandre, before being a killer he was a victim himself. Before planting his bullets in the heads of his victims, somebody planted ideas more dangerous than the bullets in his head.

This little kid didn’t wake up in the morning and say ‘Hey guys instead of going to have a picnic or watching the Canadiens, I will go kill some people in the mosque.’ It doesn’t happen that way. Day after day, week after week, month after month, certain politicians unfortunately, and certain reporters unfortunately, and certain media were poisoning our atmosphere. Let us face it, Alexandre Bissonnette didn’t start from a vacuum. This guy was poisoned. But we want Alexandre to be the last to [do] some criminal act like that.


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