Visitors crowded around Canada’s National War Memorial Saturday for the reopening of Ottawa’s Parliament Hill after the deadly shooting there Wednesday. Parliament closed after two separate terrorist attacks rocked the country this week. A couple of Canadian nationals who had recently converted to Islam and reportedly been radicalized carried out the attacks.
Flags flew at half-mast in Canada’s capital city Saturday as Imam Haider al-Shawi of the cultural and religious Ottawa al-Mahdi Center gave a speech in Arabic at the monument, CBC News reported. Al-Shawi spoke on behalf of Muslims, saying the attacks did not represent his religion.
“It’s one of those things where there’s no need for animosity or hatred,” Canadian paramedic Kyle Pooler told CBC News. “I just love that ... how they went up and said in his language and had someone translate for everybody: ‘This is not Islam. This not Muslim. This is not the people we are representing.’”
Quebec-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau opened fire in Ottawa Wednesday, killing 24-year-old Canadian Army Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. Two days before, Quebec man Martin Rouleau-Couture carried out a hit-and-run attack on two Canadian military men, killing 53-year-old Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, as CBC News reported. Both attackers were reportedly being monitored by law-enforcement agencies after attempting to travel to Syria and join jihadist groups. Although they had not left Canada to fight with those terrorist groups, their social-media profiles were filled with Islamic State group propaganda.
It is still unknown whether the militant group formerly known as ISIS instructed them to carry out attacks or whether the group simply inspired their “lone wolf” actions, but social-media accounts associated with the Islamic State group shared photographs of the attackers and celebrated them as “martyrs.”
Parliament Hill grounds were opened Saturday, but official visitor tours of the building will not resume until Monday. Additional security precautions also will be in place then. They will encompass the locking of all doors from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. and the presence of Royal Mounted Canadian Police at all entrances, the Ottawa Citizen reported.
“It is very important to me that they reopened Parliament Hill. Terrorism won’t stop Canada from being open and people going about their lives,” CBC News quoted Ottawa resident Alex Borisenko as saying.