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Religious Tolerance logo

Mass murder of religious minorities.

Shooting in Quebec mosque shakes
. Part 1: The event. Reactions.

Latest update: 2017-FEB-05

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The incident:

A single gunman entered the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, an Islamic mosque, on Sunday evening, 2017-JAN-29. It was about 8 PM as evening prayers were ending. The mosque is located near the intersection of Chemin Ste-Foy and Henri-IV streets, in the Saint-Foy section of Quebec City. It is about 3.5 km (2.2 miles) Northwest of Laval University in Quebec City.

The gunman was armed with an AK-47 Kalashnikov 7.6 mm assault rifle. He opened fire, killing six men praying in the mosque: Ibrahima Barry, Mamadou Tanou Barry, Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane, Azzedine Soufiane, and Aboubaker Thabti.

He also wounded many others. Sources differ on the exact number:

  • Montreal Gazette said "several."
  • CTV and Ifpress said 5;
  • ABC News, CNN, Democracy Now, and Fox News said 8;
  • Aljazeera said more than 8;
  • NBC News and USA Today said 17;
  • Toronto Star said 19;
  • Washington Post said 19 or more;
  • USA Today said 8 and about 17 in different articles;
  • KETV Omaha said dozens.

Webmaster's note: I cannot account for the wide variety of numbers reported. I have never seen such a range of values in news reporting.

Some victims survived with as many as five bullets in their body. The gunman was able to reload his weapon several times. A member of the mosque, Azzedine Soufiane, heroically tried to intervene while the gun was being reloaded, but was shot three times and died.

On the order of three dozen men who were in the mosque at the time escaped injury. 1

This was the first time that anyone had been killed in a mosque in Canada. Quebec City has a population of about 750,000 people. At the time of the mosque shooting, nobody had been murdered in the city during the previous 21 months. 2

Initially, the Quebec police had two suspects under arrest. Later, they reduced this to one. They determined that the second person in custody was actually the member of the mosque who had reported the shooting by phone. Police had assumed that he may have been working with the gunman. The gun that had been used during the shooting had been discarded in the snow next to him.

The Quebec provincial minister of public safety, Martin Coiteux, said that:

"... the police systems for dealing with terrorist acts have been activated. ... Ensuring the safety of the population is our priority." 1

Ian Austen & Craig Smith, writing for the New York Times, said:

"The attack shook Canada, a country where mass shootings are uncommon, and came as the country has become known as a beacon for refugees fleeing warfare and terrorism in Muslim-majority nations." 1

On the evening of JAN-31, Montreal's hate crime unit reported receiving 14 hate-related calls during the two days following the shooting, compared with an average of fewer than 8 calls per month during the last seven months of 2016. 6

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A New York Times video by Camilla Schick:

Included is a short speech by the Quebec premier, Philippe Couillard, who concluded with: "This is your home. You are welcome here."


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, head of the federal Liberal Party, issued a statement on JAN-30, saying:

"It was with tremendous shock, sadness and anger that I heard of this evening’s tragic and fatal shooting at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec located in the Ste-Foy neighbourhood of the city of Québec.

We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a centre of worship and refuge.

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.

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.

Tonight, we grieve with the people of Ste-Foy and all Canadians." 3

He also gave a 5 minute talk in Parliament, and on JAN-30 tweeted:

"Canadians will not be broken by this violence. Our spirit & unity will only strengthen – we will mourn, and we will heal, together." 5

Prime Minister Trudeau visited Quebec city on the evening of JAN-30, and addressed crowds near the mosque. 2

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What may have triggered the event?

Two days before the shooting, on Friday afternoon, JAN-27, newly installed U.S. President Donald Trump had signed an executive order that:

"... suspended entry of all refugees to the United States for 120 days, barred Syrian refugees indefinitely, and blocked entry into the United States for 90 days for citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries: Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen."

The order came into effect immediately, causing absolute chaos in many U.S. airports that receive flights from the Middle East. Many people left their incoming plane but were trapped in airports. The chaos was further aggravated by demonstrations in opposition to Trump's executive order. 4

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This topic continues in the next essay

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ian Austen & Craig Smith, "Quebec Mosque Shooting Kills at Least 6, and 2 Suspects Are Arrested," New York Times, 2017-JAN-29, at:
  2. Ian Austen & Craig Smith, "Quebec Mosque Attack Forces Canadians to Confront a Strain of Intolerance," New York Times, 2017-JAN-30, at:
  3. Justin Trudeau, "Statement by the Prime Minister of Canada on the fatal shooting in the city of Québec," Government of Canada, 2017-JAN-29, at:
  4. Ann Donnelly, "Darweesh v Trump Order," U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York," New York Times, 2017-JAN-28, at:
  5. "Quebec mosque attack: What we know," Ifpress, 2017-JAN-30, at:
  6. Josh Dehaas and Josh Elliott, "Mass held honouring Quebec shooting victims," CTVNews, 2017-JAN-31, at:

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Copyright © 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Posted on: 2017-FEB-02
B.A. Robinson
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