The senseless and brutal attack at a Québec mosque, in which a gunman shot and killed six men and wounded five others, has many people asking the same question:
Was this act of violence on our soil incited by events south of the border?
Just ten days after being sworn in, American President Donald Trump made good on one of his election promises when he signed an executive order banning immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States: Syria, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Libya, and Somalia.
Trump’s decree, seen as unconstitutional and a violation of human rights by some, prompted widespread protests at US airports and embassies around the globe.
Two days later, a lone gunman carried out his deadly attack at an Islamic Centre in Québec City. Police have charged 27-year-old Alexandre Bissonnette with six counts of first degree murder and five counts of attempted murder. His Facebook page reportedly showed “likes” for Donald Trump and right-wing French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen.
So, is there a connection between Trump’s self-described “extreme vetting” measures and this massacre deliberately aimed at Muslims in neighbouring Québec?
Until the court proceedings for Bissonnette play out, that question remains intangible. But, the fact that members of a religious group were sought out in their place of worship, while peacefully praying, reveals an ugly hatred, intolerance, and ignorance.
Understandably, Muslims in Canada are feeling threatened.
But, in these troubling times, I believe there is an opportunity for all Canadians to reach out to our Muslim neighbours and resolutely affirm our core values. Most Canadians I meet abide by tolerance and peace.
This great nation was built by people of many ethnicities and religions, many of whom came here escaping hardships as they looked to create a better life for themselves and their families. Newcomers replenish our population, add to our prosperity, and help create a diverse cultural milieu that is admired around the world.
Responding to the Québec tragedy, our premier Kathleen Wynne stated:
“We need to stay vigilant in our fight against intolerance and hate, and renew our commitment to learn from each other. We will stand with those in Québec City and with anyone who may feel threatened or targeted. When we remain united our hope and our love can withstand any cowardly act.”
Adding to the premier’s words of support, a long list of Canadian technology sector leaders issued an open calling on Ottawa to render “immediate and targeted” assistance to those affected by Trump’s ban, with quick access to visas and temporary residency. Already, there is word of tech workers who have transferred to Kitchener from the US following Trump’s election. Considering the current political climate to the south, more could follow.
At the end of her statement, Premier Wynne offered these words of hope which we share with our Muslim friends and neighbours:
“Ontario's economic and social strength is built on our tradition of openness. Our faith, tolerance and diversity make our entire province stronger.”
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