Quebec City mosque shooting survivor returns to place of prayer
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Friday, January 5, 2018 10:06PM EST
Paralysis and frigid temperatures are not enough to keep Aymen Derbali away from the Quebec City mosque where he was nearly killed trying to intervene in a shooting rampage nearly one year ago.
The father of three was among more than 50 people caught in a mass shooting at the mosque during evening prayers. The Jan. 29, 2017 attack left six people dead.
Instead of running for cover that night, he put himself in harm’s way. It was a sacrifice that nearly cost him his life.
“I tried to route his attention, because all the people were in front of him,” Derbali told CTV News on Friday. “I tried to minimize the number of victims.”
He was hit with seven bullets and spent the next two months in a coma. Doctors determined that removing the fragments left in his spine was too dangerous. The attack left him mostly paralyzed from the waist down. Now he relies on a motorized wheelchair to get around.
Still in rehab, Derbali is relearning basic tasks like eating, getting in and out of bed, and holding his two-year-old daughter. He attends the mosque every Friday, but one place he cannot go is his fourth floor apartment. His limited mobility requires an accessible living space.
A crowdfunding campaign to find him a new home has raised nearly $250,000 of its $400,000 goal. Donations have poured in from across Canada and around the world.
DawaNet, a Canadian-Muslim non-profit organization that has helped raise the money, said they have found a new home for Derbali. It still needs to be approved by his doctor.
While the tragedy has shaken the community, Derbali said he has drawn strength from his faith and wants to help people in need.
“I’m very lucky to be here, to remain alive,” he said. “This is not my hour, so I have to make an effort every day to help the needy people.”
With a report from CTV’s Vanessa Lee in Quebec City and files from The Canadian Press