Islamic Cultural Center Shooting
On Sunday, January 29th, a 27-year-old French-Canadian university student entered the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec with a firearm. The man opened fire on the worshippers, with more recent numbers indicating that “six people were fatally shot” while “another 19 people were wounded” (The Guardian). Since then, he has been charged with five counts of attempted murder and six counts of murder.
Earlier reports indicated that there were two suspected shooters, the other being a Quebec citizen of Moroccan-origin. The man, 29-year-old Mohamed Belkhadir, was arrested and released shortly thereafter from custody as merely being a witness. According to an article published by LaPresse, he claimed he was outside shoveling some snow off the stairs before hearing some gunshots. He ran inside to help out some of the wounded, but fled upon seeing a police officer with a firearm enter the building, believing it was the shooter who had returned for a second round.
Some sources cite Justin Trudeau’s tweet on January 28th as being a possible cause for the shooting. The statement was a direct response to Trump’s restrictions on travel for citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, saying: “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.” According to a chart on Statistics Canada and citing Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada, approximately 250,000 immigrants landed on Canadian soil annually over the last decade. The number of immigrants appears to be on a steady incline.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, stated at the House of Commons on Monday that the shooting was definetely a terrorist attack. He concluded his speech by saying, “Canadians will not be intimidated; we will not meet violence with more violence. We will meet fear and hatred with love and compassion. Always.”
Meanwhile, Fox News met heavy criticism on January 30th after tweeting that the “suspect in Quebec mosque terror attack was of Moroccan origin.” The tweet remained online for over a day according to some sources, sparking debates over the matter. Some claimed removing the tweet would be considered censorship, while others claimed leaving the tweet public would be misinforming the public. The tweet was eventually removed after Trudeau’s director of communications, Kate Purchase, requested that they retract the statement.
People around the world are mourning the loss of those killed in this incident. On February 5th, CBC reported that the Canadian Muslim Alliance held a “one-week anniversary of the shooting [which] was marked with a multi-faith service outside City Hall.” In addition, “several hundred people marched through the streets of the provincial capital in an event organized by the Centre culturel Islamique de Quebec.” Other media outlets report similar rallies in Toronto, Calgary, London, as well as the lighting of the Olympic Cauldron in Vancouver. John Abbott College had also held a vigil on Friday, February 3rd, in the Anne-Marie Edwards building at 11:00am.