'Anti-Muslim rhetoric' in media spurred Alexandre Bissonnette to kill, Quebec mosque preside

Editor's Note: The assertion by Mohamed Yangui that it was “anti-Muslim rhetoric” by the media that drove Alexandre Bissonnette to kill six worshippers at a Quebec City mosque on January 29, 2017, is a fine example of the victimhood narrative often used by those promoting an Islamist agenda. Yangui was president of the mosque at the time of the shooting. Bissonnette had suicidal thoughts and was fixated on terrorist attacks around the world. He told police that Prime Minister Trudeau’s tweet that Canada would accept asylum seekers refused by the US sent him over the edge and that he went to the mosque and shot people there to save others from terrorist attacks. Yangui argues that the perception that Muslims are primarily responsible for terrorist attacks in North America is a fabrication that continues to be widely disseminated. He also blames Quebec’s “politicized debates” over religious accommodation. In other words, if only the media didn’t report on Islamic terror attacks and Quebeckers did not try to protect their culture from Islamization, all would be well. However, most terrorist attacks not only in North America but around the world are perpetrated by Muslims. To report that is not “anti-Muslim rhetoric.” And why should Quebeckers not have a discussion on the changes that immigration is forcing on their society? Alexandre Bissonnette’s rampage was tragic – but his actions were those of a disturbed individual. Silencing reports of Islamist violence is not a rational reaction to the Quebec shooting. It is, however, the aim of Islamists and some of the promoters of Motion M-103.

Alexandre Bissonnette told police it was his fear that Canada was on the verge of accepting more refugees who would commit terrorist acts that spurred him to murder six men and wound five others at a Quebec City mosque last year. Fixated on terrorist attacks around the world and taking anti-depressant medications, Bissonnette said it was a tweet from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promising to accept those refused by the United States that sent him over the edge. The day he saw that message, he took his gun into the mosque and started shooting “to save people from terrorist attacks,” he said. The recording of the police interrogation was made public at his sentencing hearing in Quebec City Friday. It was the first time the motive for Bissonnette’s actions in the deadly rampage of Jan. 29, 2017, were made public. For the man who was president of the mosque when his members were gunned down during prayers, Bissonnette’s admonition was both a sign of the damage anti-Muslim sentiment has wrought, and a reminder of how little government officials are doing to bring the province’s disparate cultural communities closer together. “It is sad on so many levels,” said Mohamed Yangui, former president of the Centre culturel islamique de Quebec, as the mosque is formally known. “We have said from the first day that Mr. Bissonnette was a victim — there were bullets put into his head and his thoughts to come to this tragedy, due largely to anti-Muslim rhetoric seen in some media.”

Mohamed Yangui, right, president of the Quebec Islamic Cultural centre, walk to the Quebec legislature at a march in solidarity to the victims of the mosque shooting, Sunday, February 5, 2017 in Quebec City.

The perception that Muslims are primarily responsible for terrorist acts in North America is a fabrication that continues to be widely disseminated, Yangui said. Quebec’s long-running and politicized debates over religious accommodation and stories like the Journal de Montréal’s recent piece about a 17-year-old hijab wearing girl who wants to be a police officer further fan the flames of segregation and mistrust, he said. “The person who shot up the mosque wasn’t wearing a hijab,” Yangui said. “But that’s the talk of media who want to make us into terrorists. … “It shouldn’t matter if you are Muslim or Christian or Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist. Canada is a secular country, which means we should all start on equal footing, with the same equality and the same obligations and the same rewards for everyone.” In the wake of the shooting there was an outpouring of compassion for the Muslim community. What was lacking, and still is, he said, was any concrete action. “There was a reaction, and emotion, but there was very little conviction on the part of political authorities,” he said. With the result that little has truly changed, evidenced by the dozens of anti-Muslim acts including vandalism and threats, that occurred in the weeks and months following the attack. Quebec’s tragedy was a historic opportunity for all political parties to work toward reconciliation among the province’s numerous cultural groups and to tackle the issue of segregation, Yangui said. Instead he saw only inaction. “Who will take the torch? That’s the problem – everyone just waits for the next person to take care of it. Will it get better, or worsen? I don’t know. … “I know that there are differences between us, be we Christians, Muslims, or Hindus. But we can’t get away from the fact that we are part of all that unites humanity. We are all humans. We all have feelings. We all have families.” This article was originally published by The Montreal Gazette on April 13, 2018, and can be viewed on their site by clicking here.

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