January 30, 2017
Several people were shot and killed in a Quebec mosque on Sunday night, police said.
Gunmen opened fire during evening prayer in an Islamic cultural centre in the capital city of Canada’s French-speaking province. Quebec’s police said two suspects were arrested and reported “several” victims, including deaths. The mosque’s president told Reuters that five people were killed.
“Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City,” said Justin Trudeau, prime minister. Philippe Couillard, Quebec’s premier, called the act “barbaric violence”.
The attack comes as Quebec has seen an influx of Muslim immigrants in recent years, fuelling tension and sparking a fierce debate over whether Muslim women should be allowed to wear a niqab — a face-covering veil — in citizenship ceremonies.
It became a hot-button issue in the 2015 Canadian election, during which Justin Trudeau called efforts to ban the niqab “acts of fear and division”.
Islamophobic incidents have been on the rise across Canada. In June, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the same Quebec mosque during Ramadan, while in Ontario, a neighbouring province, a mosque was set on fire the day after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris.
The shooting follows a weekend of chaos that saw US permanent residents and refugees from some Muslim nations detained at US airports after Donald Trump’s order to block people entering the US from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Earlier on Sunday, Canada’s immigration minister extolled the importance of a “compassionate and humanitarian” immigration system. “Canada is a country of immigrants,” Ahmed Hussen told reporters in Ottawa, while addressing Mr Trump’s policy. “We have always welcomed people in need of protection and will continue to do so.”
In light of the attack in Quebec, New York’s police department said it would give “special attention” to mosques and house of worship locations across the city.
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