Religious, political leaders condemn shooting at Quebec mosque

By Philippe Vaillancourt

QUEBEC CITY — Faith and
political leaders condemned a shooting at Quebec’s main mosque that left at
least six people dead.

Vigils were scheduled Jan. 30 in
Quebec City and Montreal, the evening after two men entered the Quebec Islamic
Cultural Center and opened fire, killing at least six men who were praying and
injuring 19 more. Police later arrested two suspects, two men aged between 20
and 30. The motive behind the attack remained unclear.

Pope Francis met with Quebec
Archbishop Cardinal Gerald Lacroix in Rome Jan. 30 and assured him of his
prayers for the victims of the attack on the mosque. A Vatican statement said
the pope highlighted the importance of Christians and Muslims remaining united
in prayer in these moments.

Afterward, the cardinal immediately
departed for Canada.

Archbishop Christian Lepine of
Montreal said: “Nothing can justify such murderous acts aimed at innocent
people. We are called to say again that, whatever our beliefs are, as human
beings we are all brothers and sisters, all equal in dignity.”

The Anglican bishops of Quebec
City and Montreal were in Canterbury, England, when the attack occurred.

In a joint statement on the
shooting, Coadjutor Bishop Bruce Myers of Quebec and Bishop Mary Irwin-Gibson
of Montreal said: “Along with our grief and prayers we are called as
disciples of Jesus to express our solidarity with our neighbors who are Muslim.”

“We wish to express
directly to our Muslim neighbors in Quebec our grief and repugnance at this
brutal act of violence against another community of faith, and one in the midst
of prayer. When one is attacked, we are all attacked, and our whole society is
diminished,” they insisted.

Over the years, the mosque had
been targeted by hate crimes. A few months ago, a pig’s head was left at the
front door, sparking indignation throughout the city.

Quebec City is the capital of
the province and its second-biggest city, with more than 500,000 people. It has
6,100 Muslims.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin
Trudeau was scheduled to be in Quebec City Jan. 30.

“It was with tremendous
shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this (Jan. 29) evening’s tragic and
fatal shooting,” he said. “We condemn this terrorist attack on
Muslims in a center of worship and refuge.”

Quebec Mayor Regis Labeaume stayed
up all night to assess the situation.

“My first thoughts go to
the victims and their families hit while they were gathered to pray. Quebec is
an open city where all must be allowed to live together in security and
respect,” he said.

“I invite the population to
come together and stand united. Quebec is strong, Quebec is proud, Quebec is
opened to the world,” he added.

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Vaillancourt is editor on
Montreal-based Presence info.

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