Police in Quebec City, Canada say one man remains in custody following a deadly shooting at a mosque and that another man, who was detained as a suspect, is now being considered a witness. A court clerk earlier identified the two men as Alexandre Bissonnette and Mohamed el Khadir; but, it is not clear which one remains the suspect.
Six people were killed and eight others wounded late Sunday in the shooting, which Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau condemned it as a “terrorist attack on Muslims.” Trudeau, who was traveling to Quebec City on Monday, said in a statement that his country values diversity and religious tolerance.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” he said in his statement. Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superintendent Martin Plante said, “The investigation is a domestic investigation at this time.” He added police will gather more information and evidence, and then move forward.
The head of the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center said people were gathered for evening prayers at the time of the shooting.
A police spokeswoman, Christine Coulombe, said the dead ranged in age from 35 to about 70.
President Donald Trump called Trudeau Monday to offer his condolences. Trudeau’s office said Trump offered to provide any assistance needed.
In June 2016, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the same mosque.
After Sunday’s shooting, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said his police department is providing extra protection for mosques in the city.
“To my fellow New Yorkers who are Muslim: New York City will protect you. The NYPD will protect you. We will fight all hatred and bias,” he wrote on Twitter.
At a news conference Monday, a police spokesperson said the two are being interrogated but declined to discuss any possible motive. He did confirm the two are Canadian citizens who reside in Quebec.
Quebec police said one of the men was arrested at the scene of the attack that also injured eight people. The second man called 911 from his car, saying he was armed but wanted to cooperate with police, the AP reported. Denis Turcotte of the Quebec police said the man stopped and said he was
Iran condemned the deadly shooting, calling it “inhumane and criminal.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said the attack shows that “terrorism is not confined to one region or a few countries,” state-media reported.
The lights on the Eiffel Tower will be turned off at midnight to honor the victims, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo said. She said in a tweet Monday that the action would send a “fraternal message to everyone in Quebec and in Canada.”
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said at a news conference that the “Muslim community was the target of this murderous attack.”
The assault comes amid heightened tensions worldwide over Trump’s ban on admitting refugees to the U.S. and travel restrictions from certain Muslim countries.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” Trudeau said about the attack in his statement. “Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”
In response to Trump’s refugee and travel ban, Trudeau on Saturday had posted a message on Twitter saying, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada.”
Since Trudeau’s election in 2015, 39,000 Syrian refugees have been admitted to Canada.
Canadian authorities said an increased police presence will be put around mosques after the attack. The New York Police Department said it would also increase patrols at mosques and other houses of worship. “Our prayers tonight are with the people of Quebec City,” New York City Mayor Bill Blasio said in a tweet.
In June, the same mosque was the target of a hate crime during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. In that incident, a worshiper found a pig’s head left at the mosque’s doorstep. A note with it said: “Bon appétit,” the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation reported. Islam prohibits eating pork.
The head of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) on Monday expressed outrage over the terror attack at a mosque in Quebec City, Canada.
In the Greek capital Athens, where he was attending a Holocaust remembrance ceremony, WJC President Ronald S. Lauder declared: “Muslim worshippers were brutally attacked last night in a horrific attack. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Islamic community and with the people of Canada, and we hope those who perpetrated this abhorrent act of mass murder will be brought to justice.”
Lauder reiterated a statement he made last July, after the killing of a French priest near Rouen by terrorists: “We must not be intimidated by terrorism, but cherish our freedom, including the freedom to worship.
“We must defend each other, and we must look after one another: one religious community after the other, one country after the other. The scourge of terrorism won’t be defeated unless we are united in our resolve to defeat it.”
By: Ted Kurlansky
Toppo reported from McLean, Va.