The shooting that took place last night in a Quebec City mosque has taken an unexpected twist. Authorities have released the names of the two gunmen, and both appear to be Muslim. This has many questioning the motive behind the attack.
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Eyewitneses said both gunmen shouted “Allahu akbar” as the shooting erupted inside the mosque. Six men are confirmed dead, and many more were injured.
The Associated Press is reporting that the suspects have now been identified as Mohamed el Khadir and Alexandre Bissonnette. The two were arrested after the shooting at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre Sunday night without incident.
One of the pair actually called 911 and turned himself in. Twenty minutes after the shooting, he called and told officers where he could be found. Responding officers arrested him and he’s due to appear in court today.
When news broke of this shooting, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau labeled the attack as a “terrorist attack on Muslims.” Early interpretation of this leaned toward violent Islamophobia. Now the shooting appears to be motivated by a more radical interpretation of Islam.
“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 Quebec located in the Ste-Foy neighborhood of the city of Quebec,” Trudeau said in a statement. “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”
The attackers are believed to be students at Université Laval, a school in Quebec. One anonymous source is claiming that one of the assailants is Moroccan.
A witness told Radio Canada of his experience inside the mosque:
“It seemed to me that they had a Quebecois accent. They started to fire, and as they shot they yelled, ‘Allahu akbar!’ The bullets hit people that were praying. People who were praying lost their lives. A bullet passed right over my head.”
The news that the attack may be an overt example of radical Islamic terrorism has the Islamic community in Quebec even more worried. Their mosque has been the target of Islamophobic hatred before, and now this attack swings the pendulum in the opposite direction.