Canadian PM says mosque shooting a ‘terrorist attack on Muslims’

Police officers patrol the perimeter at the scene of a fatal shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre in Quebec City, Canada, on Jan. 30, 2017. Photo courtesy of Retuers/Mathieu Belanger
At least 6 killed in Quebec mosque shooting (Reuters video)

QUEBEC CITY, Quebec (Reuters) – Six people were killed and eight wounded when gunmen opened fire at a Quebec City mosque during Sunday night prayers, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Police said two suspects had been arrested, but gave no details about them or what prompted the attack.

Initially, the mosque president said five people were killed and a witness said up to three gunmen had fired on about 40 people inside the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Police said only two people were involved in the attack.

“Six people are confirmed dead – they range in age from 35 to about 70,” Quebec provincial police spokeswoman Christine Coulombe told reporters, adding eight people were wounded and 39 were unharmed.

The mosque’s president, Mohamed Yangui, who was not inside when the shooting occurred, said he got frantic calls from people at evening prayers.

“Why is this happening here? This is barbaric,” he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement: “We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge”.

“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”

The shooting came on the weekend that Trudeau said Canada would welcome refugees, after U.S. President Donald Trump suspended the U.S. refugee program and temporarily barred citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States on national security grounds.

Police officers are seen near a mosque after a shooting in Quebec City, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2017. Photo courtesy Reuters/Mathieu Belanger

Police officers are seen near a mosque after a shooting in Quebec City, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2017. Photo courtesy Reuters/Mathieu Belanger

A Canadian federal Liberal legislator, Greg Fergus, tweeted: “This is an act of terrorism — the result of years of sermonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!”

The premier of Quebec province, Philippe Couillard, said security would be increased at mosques in Quebec City and Montreal.

“We are with you. You are home,” Couillard said, directing his comments at the province’s Muslim community. “You are welcome in your home. We are all Quebecers. We must continue together to build an open welcoming and peaceful society”.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said police were providing additional protection for mosques in that city following the Quebec shooting. “All New Yorkers should be vigilant. If you see something, say something,” he tweeted.

‘Not safe here’

French President Francois Hollande condemned the attack.

“The terrorists wanted to attack the spirit of peace and tolerance of the citizens of Quebec,” Hollande said in a statement on Monday. “France stands shoulder to shoulder with the victims and their families”.

Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them from North Africa.

In June last year, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the cultural center.

“We are not safe here,” said Mohammed Oudghiri, who normally attends prayers at the mosque in the middle-class, residential area, but did not on Sunday.

Oudghiri said he had lived in Quebec for 42 years but was now “very worried” and thinking of moving back to Morocco.

Mass shootings are rare in Canada, which has stricter gun laws than the United States, and news of the shooting sent a shockwave through mosques and community centers throughout the mostly French-language province.

“It’s a sad day for all Quebecers and Canadians to see a terrorist attack happen in peaceful Quebec City,” said Mohamed Yacoub, co-chairman of an Islamic community center in a Montreal suburb.

“I hope it’s an isolated incident.”

Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years. The face-covering, or niqab, became a big issue in the 2015 Canadian federal election, especially in Quebec, where the majority of the population supported a ban on it at citizenship ceremonies.

In 2013, police investigated after a mosque in the Saguenay region of the province was splattered with what was believed to be pig blood. In the neighboring province of Ontario, a mosque was set on fire in 2015, a day after an attack by gunmen and suicide bombers in Paris.

Zebida Bendjeddou, who left the Quebec City mosque earlier on Sunday evening, said the center had received threats.

“In June, they’d put a pig’s head in front of the mosque. But we thought: ‘Oh, they’re isolated events.’ We didn’t take it seriously. But tonight, those isolated events, they take on a different scope,” she said.

Bendjeddou said she had not confirmed the names of those killed, but added: “They’re people we know, for sure. People we knew since they were little kids.”

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  • “Canadian PM says mosque shooting a ‘terrorist attack on Muslims’” The Canadian prime minister also smokes weed and wants sick people killed.

    According to the CBC canada, the names of the accused are “The two men arrested following the deadly shooting at a Quebec City mosque Sunday night are Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed Khadir, Radio-Canada has learned.”

  • As usual, you are able to provide ‘alternative facts’ to reality. First, the Canadian PM did not initially identify it as a terrorist attack until after police proceeded with an investigation with respect to laying of terrorism charges. The Criminal Code clearly identifies what is considered to be acts of terrorism. (If Dylan Roof’s attack in North Carolina had occurred in Canada, it would have also been considered a terrorist attack.) Smokes weed is an overstatement and past tense.

    Medically assisted death arose out of a Supreme Court decision in 2015 – Conservative Prime Minister still in power at time – ruling that assisted suicide as culpable homicide was to be considered invalid but gave the government 12 plus 4 months to create legislation governing medical assistance when dying otherwise. A person has to be clearly dying of an incurable disease in an advanced state of irreversible decline, capable of consent which must be witnessed by two independent individuals with two medical opinions required with express consent required right before death, must wait 10 days after requesting and giving initial consent and they must be informed of palliative care options. The legislation is more restrictive as to who can request medically assisted dying than the court ruling.

    We will learn more about the suspects and their motivations as the investigation continues.

  • The prime minister has the right to overturn “assisted murder”.
    The prime minister should have kept his nose out of it – these are his two favourite parties and places – Quebec, and muslim – that’s all. Had it been a Christian church in Alberta, nothing would have been said. He’s gutless.

  • No, he does not have the right to overturn a court ruling that would have left the door wide open. To do that he would have had to evoke the not withstanding clause of the Canadian Chart of Rights and Freedoms in light of the court ruling. Parliament made a law that was narrow rather than wide. You obviously have never been bedside of a dying person in great pain and agony and struggling to breathe. Not all people are privileged to have easy deaths.

    Criticisms of his Christian faith are not surprising coming from you but then Stephen Harper also had no interest in re-opening the abortion debate and he struck an expert committee to provide recommendations on drafting such a law. No not withstanding clause came from there either.

  • Yes he does.
    Also, please note the article that I posted for you.
    Also, do you have a comprehension problem? Where have I questioned his “christian faith”?
    Again, you are incorrect: You have no idea of what I have sat next to, but I do try to avoid people who believe they are psychic like you do. Ta ta.

  • Simply inferred from your comments not just now – killing sick people, support of Muslims, Christian church but also prior comments about Muslims and excessive cherry picking of Scripture. But I erred then, so I can then assume you believe that Trudeau is a Christian like you.

  • You may assume anything you like, Linda. You do anyway. What are Manitoba’s lottery numbers this week?

  • Unfortunately there have been, and probably will continue to be many terrorist attacks on Muslims. It must be terrible to feel that there isn’t one safe place on the globe for them. Truly heartbreaking.

  • So happy then you appear to believe that Canada has a Prime Minister who is Christian in his personal beliefs.

  • Linda, I have never met a more self-righteous commenter than Sandy. There are a few others similarly arrogant and condescending. Jesus hates all the same people and things as Sandy. [Just the type of “Christian” to really make you want to attend her church.] Some time ago I decided to just let her live in her own little trumpian world.

  • Ahhhh…your spirit guides told you that too? What about the lottery numbers? (edit) They would be wrong anyway

  • Thanks. Her entire slamming of the mosque attack by he initial statement made me see red. But it does appear that she might have to eat her words – at least partially. Only one person charged – and it wasn’t Mr. Kafir. Your use of Trumpian is somewhat prescient as apparently Mr. Bissonette liked Facebook pages of Trump and his ilk as well.

  • Where in the article you cited does it say anything about the RCMP, much less that they have not declared it to be a terrorist incident? And even if they have not, that doesn’t mean they won’t. If anything, the article you posted states that only one of the arrestees is a suspect in the shooting. As later news has developed, that suspect — Bissonette — turns out to be an anti-immigrant nationalist, admirer of Trump and Marine Le Pen. He was quoted on social media as saying Christianity was being persecuted over same-sex wedding cakes. Run from it, squirm, find alternative facts, trot out your no-true-Christian get out of argument free card, find any excuse to claim that he was somehow an atheist abortion-loving Hillary supporter, we know you will. We’re not buying what you’re selling anymore.

  • Tantrum? Is that what you call actual facts? Maybe you’ve been checking Info Wars or something. I got my information from the CBC, NBC (that’s an American organization) and the Toronto Sun. Go there, then feel free to come back and apologize.

  • Toronto Sun I like, I’ll look there. Your comments are not reflected on the CBC last I checked. NBC is too liberal for my tastes,

  • “that suspect — Bissonette — turns out to be an anti-immigrant nationalist, admirer of Trump and Marine Le Pen. He was quoted on social media as saying Christianity was being persecuted over same-sex wedding cakes. ” not from my sources. Some of that, at best, is gossip. Sorry Arb ISIS will be taking responsibility soon too.

  • A lot of everything you believe isn’t on the media that the rest of us check. That’s never stops you.

  • of course it can. That’s the beauty of being you. That’s the beauty of your bible. You can find a passage to prove whatever you wish.

  • Not really, Ben. You cannot prove that homosexuality is acceptable. You weren’t feeling well the other day. You ok now?