As Tensions Flare Around the World, Terror Attack on Muslims in Quebec Leaves 6 Dead
"We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge."
Two gunmen opened fire on a mosque in Quebec during evening prayers, leaving six people dead and more wounded in what Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is calling a terror attack.
Suspects have been captured, but the crime has caused fear and panic in a Muslim community that has faced escalating hostility in recent months and years.
The shooting has also dealt a blow to the image of openness and tolerance that Canada has tried to project to the world. Throughout the refugee crisis that has roiled the world for the past several years, the Canadian government and citizens have generously embraced people from Muslim-majority countries fleeing violence and terror.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau had this to say in a statement: "We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre 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."
But the attack comes days after US President Donald Trump enacted what is essentially a ban on people from Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. Trudeau responded to the ban by declaring that his country welcomes all immigrants and refugees regardless of background.
To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
Trump’s executive order opened up a deep seam of outrage, causing vehement protests throughout the US and the world. But those who support the measure have also been emboldened.
Drawing a connection from the ban to the crime on Sunday night is tenuous, but there’s no doubt that tensions and animosities have been inflamed as a result.
And discrimination against Muslims is more common in Quebec than the rest of Canada. Calls for hijab bans have been made in the past and right-wing groups regularly antagonize Muslims.
While most of the country supports a welcoming approach to refugees, a survey in Ontario last year found that a majority of respondents had a negative impression of Islam.
Further, anti-Muslim attacks have been on the rise throughout the country.
A Montreal mosque and Muslim community center were damaged in separate arson attempts in December and leaders of Muslim organizations have received death threats.
In the US, meanwhile, hate crimes against Muslims rose 67% from 2014 to 2015 and 2016 saw a spate of hate crimes surrounding the election of Donald Trump.
Recently, three men in Kansas were arrested and charged with a plot to bomb an apartment building that housed Somali immigrants, many of whom are Muslim. They had expressed a desire to kill as many Muslims as possible in a broader effort to rid the country of Islam.
Following the attack in Quebec, leaders and citizens have expressed grief and shown their support for Muslims.
Le #Québec rejette catégoriquement cette violence barbare. Toute notre solidarité aux proches des victimes, des blessés et à leur famille.— Philippe Couillard (@phcouillard) January 30, 2017
Rallies, memorials, and support drives are being held throughout the region.