News of a gunman invading the Quebec City mosque during the evening prayers on January 29. Quebec police confirmed in a news briefing that six people had been killed and eight injured, some seriously.
Police have arrested two suspects, but are yet to release a details about them and about what prompted the attack.
“Six people are confirmed dead – they range in age from 35 to about 70,” said Quebec provincial police spokeswoman Christine Coulombe, adding eight people were injured, some seriously, and 39 were unharmed.
La situation est sous contrôle, les lieux sont sécurisés et les occupants ont été évacués. L’enquête se poursuit.
— SPVQ_police (@SPVQ_police) January 30, 2017
As per the official tweet by the Quebec Police: “The situation is under control, the premises are secured and the occupants evacuated. The investigation is continuing.”
One of the suspects was arrested 14 miles to the east of the mosque, along the shore of the St. Lawrence River trying to approach the bridge leading to the Island of Orleans which had been closed by the police. The second suspect was arrested close to the mosque.
The gunman threatened to kill himself near the bridge and according to reports from The Sun, he was arrested and police found three guns, including two apparent semi-automatic weapons, inside his vehicle.
A Shameful Act of Terrorism
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the shooting a “terrorist attack” and said Canadians grieved for the victims. He 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.”
Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 30, 2017
A Canadian federal Liberal legislator, Greg Fergus tweeted:
This is an act of terrorism — the result of years of demonizing Muslims. Words matter and hateful speeches have consequences!
— Greg Fergus (@GregFergus) January 30, 2017
The shooting is a shock for the peaceful city of Quebec, which is a quiet white-collar city with a very low crime rate. In fact, in 2015, the city reported only two murders. The metropolitan population being that of 800,000.
Civilians Feeling ‘Unsafe’
In June 2016, the mosque was a target of a hate crime when a pig’s head was left at the front door with the message “Bonne appétit,” as The Washington Post reported at the time. The consumption of pork is banned by Islam.
“We are not safe here,” said Mohammed Oudghiri, who normally attends prayers at the mosque. He went on to say that he had been living in Quebec for 42 years but is now “very worried” and thinking of moving back to Morocco.
Samer Majzoub, the president of the Canadian Muslim Forum said Canada has seen increasing anti-Muslim hostility over the past year, but still nowhere near the level witnessed in the United States and Europe. Like France, Quebec has struggled at times to reconcile its secular identity with a rising Muslim population, many of them from North Africa.
Incidents of Islamophobia have been on the rise in Quebec. The ‘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.