QUEBEC – Canadians are in shock following the mass shooting at a mosque in Quebec City on Sunday night.
A few dozen people were inside Centre Culturel Islamque de Québec (the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec) in the Sainte-Foy neighbouhood of Quebec City for the evening prayers when the shooting began just before 8 p.m.
Quebec provincial police say six people are dead and eight were wounded in the shooting incident. The victims ranged in age from 35 to 70.
Police confirmed that two suspects were arrested.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said the shooting is an act of terrorism.
Canadian leaders reacted swiftly condemning the shooting.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in a statement late Sunday night.
“On behalf of all Canadians, Sophie and I offer our deepest condolences to the family and friends of all those who have died, and we wish a speedy recovery to those who have been injured.”
“While authorities are still investigating and details continue to be confirmed, 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,” added the Prime Minister.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”
Quebec Premier Phillipe Couillard said that the province “categorically rejects this barbaric violence,” and that his provincial government has “mobilized” to ensure public safety, though no details were provided.
Canadian Muslims expressed their grief and urged the government to take action.
“The Canadian Council of Imams is grieved and shocked at tonight’s senseless killings of worshippers at the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec in Quebec City,” said the Canadian Council of Imams in a statement.
“We call upon the province of Quebec and law enforcement officials to take action against those who have committed these hate crimes and to protect all religious minorities against bigotry, intimidation, violence and terror.”
The cities of Montreal and Gatineau said they will be increasing security and surveillance and Gatineau Police said they will pay “particular attention to the surroundings of mosques.”
Last year during Ramadan, the Muslim month of fasting, a pig’s head was found at the doorstep of the mosque. Incidents of Islamophobia have increased in Quebec in recent years.