Police failed to warn Quebec Muslims before mosque shooting, survivor says
Published Thursday, May 18, 2017 7:34PM EDT
A survivor of the Quebec City mosque shooting is speaking out against law enforcement, saying police identified a “culture of hatred” months before the massacre but failed to warn the Muslim community.
A severed pig’s head wrapped in ribbons and bows was left outside the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre last June during Ramadan celebrations, seven months before the Jan 29. shooting. It was accompanied with a note that read “Bonne Appetit [sic].”
Police investigated the incident at the time. According to a police report obtained by CBC News, officers referred to a “climate of hatred” connected to the pig head incident.
Said El Amari says police never told the Muslim community about their concerns. If the community had known, El Amari says, they would have taken precautions such as locking the mosque door.
Nineteen people were wounded and six killed when the gunman barged into the mosque and began shooting at men attending evening prayers.
A warning from police could’ve saved lives, El Amari says.
“At least there would have been an obstacle. People would have had a chance to get out through the emergency exit,” he told CTV Montreal.
El Amari was shot twice. One bullet grazed his right knee and another pierced his abdomen, striking a major artery. He was rushed to hospital and lost eight litres of blood.
“They should have warned us,” he said.
Police declined CTV Montreal’s request for an interview.
The victims of the shooting were all men between the ages of 39 and 60: Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry, Azzeddine Soufiane, Abdelkrim Hassane, Khaled Belkacemi and Aboubaker Thabti.
Mosque president Mohamed Yangui has said the faith centre has received more threats since the shooting. Attendees now carry key cards to access the mosque, and extra security has been put in place.
The lone suspect in connection with the shooting, 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette, faces six counts of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder using a restricted firearm.
In March, Bissonnette changed lawyers after defence lawyer Jean Petit recused himself. He has been replaced by legal-aid lawyer Charles-Olivier Gosselin.
Bissonnette is due back in court on May 29.
With a report from CTV Montreal