Trudeau reaches out to Canadian Muslims after mosque attack
Jeff Lagerquist, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, January 30, 2017 12:15AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 30, 2017 10:45PM EST
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke directly to Canada’s Muslim community following Sunday’s shooting inside a Quebec City mosque that killed six worshippers and left five critically injured. The solemn address to the House of Commons offered condolences and promised that such acts of violence have no place in Canadian society.
Trudeau’s heartfelt tribute also touched on Canada’s reputation for diversity, generosity and compassion, and thanked political and religious leaders who have reached out in the wake of the attack.
“These people were targeted simply because they were practicing their religion. This is a terrorist attack. It is an attack on the deepest values of Canadians, openness, diversity, and freedom of religion,” said Trudeau.
“To the people who were injured, to the people of Quebec City, and all Canadians, I say rest assured that we will get to the bottom of matters. An act of violence of this nature has no place in Canadian society.”
Tonight, Canadians grieve for those killed in a cowardly attack on a mosque in Quebec City. My thoughts are with victims & their families.— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 30, 2017
Interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose and NDP Leader Tom Mulcair added their condolences to the victims and their families, and thanked first responders and community leaders.
Shots rang out during evening prayers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec shortly before 8 p.m. on Sunday night. Police say the victims were all men between the ages of 39 and 60.
He began his address to the crowd with "al-salamu alaykum," an Arabic phrase which means “may peace be with you.”
He then spoke in French saying: “Canada is united tonight. […] We are all here to be witnesses of what we’re seeing before us; people who have come out and testified their solidarity together as Quebecers and as Canadians.”
He noted that all the leaders of the political parties were also present at the vigil.
“We’re here tonight to demonstrate that we won’t accept this hatred,” he said.
“Last night this community experienced something that no community should ever have to know. Unspeakable cruelty and violence perpetrated on those in friendship and in faith. We stand with you, we love you and we support you and we will always defend and protect your right to gather together to pray today and every day. Our responsibility to those who have died and were injured, and our responsibility to you, citizens of Quebec City and members of the Muslim community all across Canada, endures. Muslim Canadians have helped build the communities we call home. They own businesses and create jobs. They teach in our schools, they care for us when we are sick. Muslim Canadians are valued members of every community and wherever they live they deserve to feel welcomed and safe. They are home here.”
Trudeau finished his speech by reminding Canadians what our values are.
“We are the best when we are taking care of each other and we always share more than what divides us. We are all Canadians. May peace bless us all.”
U.S. President Donald Trump expressed his condolences to Trudeau by phone on Monday. A spokesperson for the prime minister says Trump “offered to provide any assistance as needed.”
The U.S. embassy in Ottawa echoed the message, saying “the United States is determined to fight terrorism and stands ready to assist the Canadian government.”
“It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence. Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear,” said Trudeau in a previous statement.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Quebec “categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” adding that Quebecers are “even more united today.”
“We know that this horror has been based on intolerance and hatred towards one specific community. It is too early to say exactly what kind of horrible message these people want to send,” he said in a press conference on Monday.
“Quebec is a good, generally loving society. But we have these devils in our society as well, like other societies have. We have to recognize that and fight them.”
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
Ambrose accepted an invitation from Trudeau to join him in Quebec City. Conservative MPs and senators recently wrapped up a two-day strategy session in the provincial capital before returning to Ottawa for Parliament to resume.
Thomas Mulcair called the shootings “an act of hatred.”
Horrified at the news of a shooting in a mosque tonight in Québec City. We stand with our Muslim neighbours against this act of hatred.— Tom Mulcair (@ThomasMulcair) January 30, 2017
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and British Columbia Premier Christy Clark also condemned the incident.
Our hearts are heavy with the news out of Quebec City tonight. No one should ever fear worshiping their God in Canada.— Kathleen Wynne (@Kathleen_Wynne) January 30, 2017
Angela Merkel's spokesperson Steffen Seibert said the German Chancellor was shocked by the shooting, calling the incident “despicable.”
New York Mayor Bill de Blasio called upon New Yorkers to pray for Quebec City.
Our prayers tonight are with the people of Quebec City as they deal with a terrible attack on a mosque. We must stand together.— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 30, 2017
With files from The Canadian Press