Muslims in Quebec who endured the mosque attack two years ago that killed six people say they are deeply troubled by today’s shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, that have left dozens dead and injured.
At least one man, an Australian, is charged with murder following the attacks in Christchurch during Friday prayers.
It’s believed that man may have been in some way influenced by Quebec City mosque shooter Alexandre Bissonnette.
Photos of the ammunition believed to belong to the New Zealand accused and that were posted on a Twitter account that has now been suspended show the name of Bissonnette, who pleaded guilty in the 2017 shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre, alongside the names of others who had committed race- or religion-based killings.
“I don’t know why they’re targeting our community,” said Kais Chaouache, a member of the Quebec City mosque, who was there Friday morning. “We integrate well everywhere in the world. We try to be ambassadors of peace.”
Chaouache, who has lived in Quebec for 15 years, says it’s worrisome that safety seems to be diminishing.
“Here, we belong to Quebec society; we are Quebecers. In New Zealand, same thing. Why were they targeted by this act?”
The mosque posted on its Facebook page to say the community is following the attack in New Zealand “with worry.”
Mosque president Boufeldja Benabdallah said news of the shooting was troubling.
“I feel the pain they are feeling this morning, like the families here felt. I sympathize with them,” Benabdallah said Friday morning.
The families affected by the 2017 shooting in Quebec are undoubtedly affected, he said.
“It’s an indescribable pain. We have to get to work again to put a stop to extremism,” Benabdallah said.
“We need to change. The world cannot continue like this.”
Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa and Gatineau, Que., police have confirmed heightened security near mosques Friday.
‘It hit like a ton of bricks’
“When I heard the news, it hit like a ton of bricks,” Mohammed Labidi, a co-founder and former president of the Quebec City mosque, told Radio-Canada on Friday morning. “It brings up the pain that we experienced here.”
Labidi called the events deplorable and said members of the Quebec mosque are in shock.
“It’s sad that the world hasn’t learned a lesson after what happened to the innocent people who died here.”
Mehmet Deger, the imam at a Dorval mosque, says these types of actions are intended to divide the community, and the alleged shooter in New Zealand was brainwashed and is not an example of an entire society.
“Alexandre Bissonnette is another example of a brainwashed person,” Deger said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted his condolences to those affected by the New Zealand shootings, and said Canada condemns them.
Attacking people during prayers is absolutely appalling, and Canada strongly condemns today’s shootings in New Zealand. Our thoughts and hearts go out to the victims and their families, and we join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving.
Quebec Premier FrançoisLegault, Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also took to Twitter to express condolences to the victims and their families.