Paralysed Quebec mosque attack 'hero' receives $310,000

Aymen Derbali was hailed as a hero after being shot several times trying to save others in the 2017 Quebec City attack.

    Paralysed Quebec mosque attack 'hero' receives $310,000
    Derbali was shot several times at close range as he attempted to save others lives [Courtesy DawaNet]

    Montreal, Canada - A survivor of last year's deadly shooting at a Canadian mosque who was hailed as "a hero" has been given $310,000 ($400,000 Canadian) in donations to rebuild his life.

    Aymen Derbali received the sum - collected via online donations from people in Quebec, Canada and around the world - during a ceremony on Saturday at the Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City.

    "Every second, I imagine myself playing with my children in the house," Derbali said, as he accepted the money. "This gives me strength."

    On January 29 last year, a gunman opened fire shortly after evening prayer at the centre, the largest mosque in Quebec City.

    Six men were killed, five others were critically injured, and 19 people in all were hurt.

    Derbali was shot several times at close range as he attempted to draw the attacker's attention to himself to save his fellow worshipers.

    He was rushed to a hospital, where he spent two months in a coma. When he woke up, Derbali was told he would never walk again. 

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    He is now in a wheelchair and undergoing physical therapy.

    Set up by the Canadian Muslim community group DawaNet, the online fundraiser sought to help secure a home for Derbali that would meet his mobility needs.

    Derbali spent two months in a coma after the shooting [Courtesy DawaNet] 

    On Saturday, Derbali thanked Quebecers and Canadians for their donations, which he said would allow him "to live in a home that is accessible".

    "I am looking forward to living there with my beautiful family, and I am looking forward to a bright future, despite of the darkness we have been through," he said in a statement.

    Shooter pleads guilty

    The ceremony came less than a week after Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder in relation to the attack. 

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    In a Quebec courtroom on Monday, Bissonnette said he chose to plead guilty to spare the victims and their families the trauma of reliving what happened. He had previously entered a not-guilty plea.

    Two days later, on Wednesday, Bissonnette read out a written statement in which he said he was "neither a terrorist nor an Islamophobe".

    However, members of the local Muslim community have challenged the idea that Islamophobia did not play a role in the attack.

    "If it's not a terrorist act, it's an Islamophobic one," Derbali, who attended the court hearing on Wednesday, told The Canadian Press.

    Ultimately, Derbali said he looked forward to rebuilding his life after the attack. 

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    "I will always have faith in God - that good things will always come to those who are patient, kind, generous, and sincere," he said in a statement.

    "I am proof that when we show love, the world will show love in return." 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera News


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