By Molly Ambler
In a week which has given the world more political shocks, there was more to follow with an attack on a mosque in Quebec that killed six people and injured 17 others.
A French- Canadian student was the sole suspect in the shooting, a shooting that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has called “a terrorist attack”.
The suspect has been named as Alexandre Bissonnette and he has now been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted to murder. The police declined to discuss the possible motives for the shooting at the Central Culturel Islamique de Quebec, however, they are confident that there are no other suspects.
The suspect is expected to appear in a Quebec City courtroom on Monday afternoon. The Prime Minister of Canada has made a point of welcoming refugees and immigrants to Canada, made a statement to the House of Commons in Ottawa, “Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack”. There was also a personal message from the Prime Minister “Know that we value you. You enrich our shared country in immeasurable ways. It is your home. Last night’s horrible crime against the Muslim community was an act of terror committed against Canada and against all Canadians. We will grieve with you. We will defend you. We will love you. And we will stand with you.”
The attack was most certainly out of character for Quebec City, the city only reported two murders in the whole of 2015 and mass shootings are incredibly rare with Canadian gun laws being stricter than that of the US.
Reactions have been broadly similar. The U.S President Donald Trump has expressed his condolences, “and offered to provide any assistance as needed,” however, this expression of help has caused controversy across the world due to the President Trump’s executive order to halt the U.S refugee program and temporarily bar citizens from seven countries with a Muslim majority from entering the U.S.
The French President, Francois Hollande has condemned the “odious attack” on the mosque and offered support to the Canadian leaders. Mr Hollande also said in a statement, “it was the Quebecois spirit of peace and openness that the terrorists wanted to harm.”
Pope Francis also called for mutual respect from people of different faiths as he condemned the attack. Quebec City Mayor Regis Labeaume made a statement in which he said, “No person should have to pay with their life, for their race, their colour, their sexual orientation or their religious beliefs.”
While the authorities in Canada are reluctant to label the mosque shooting as an act of terrorism, the Prime Minister and the Quebec Premier Philippe both described the shooting as an act of terrorism.
Four Opposition party leaders mirrored the call for unity. The political turmoil is clearly going to continue throughout this year, with growing intolerance of people from ethnic minorities and different religions. However, it has become clear that amidst the sorrow and heartbreak, communities can come together and show the best in humanity even when around them there is the worst.