MONTREAL (JTA) — The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Quebec and World Jewish Congress were among the Jewish and non-Jewish groups who condemned the attack on a Quebec mosque during a prayer service that left six dead and eight wounded.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called the Sunday night attack on the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, in which gunmen fired on the some 40 people inside, a “terrorist attack on Muslims,” Reuters reported.
Two suspects – reportedly students at Laval University in the city – were arrested following the attack, although the specific reasons behind the shootings remained unclear.
One of the victims was reportedly a convenience store owner and father of four who has stopped by the mosque for evening prayers.
“We condemn this terrorist attack on Muslims in a center of worship and refuge. Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country,” Trudeau said in a statement.
“The Jewish community is horrified by the murderous shooting,” said Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs in Quebec. “Nothing justifies the murder of innocent civilians assembled in a place of worship.”
WJC President Ronald Lauder in a statement issued early Monday morning called it a “horrific attack” and called for “those who perpetrated this abhorrent act of mass murder” to be “brought to justice.”
Echoing previous statements, Lauder said: “We must not be intimidated by terrorism, but cherish our freedom, including the freedom to worship. We must defend each other, and we must look after one another: one religious community after the other, one country after the other. The scourge of terrorism won’t be defeated unless we are united in our resolve to defeat it.”
The American Jewish Committee in a statement said it was “appalled” by the fatal attack. “This was an attack on Canada, not only on one mosque. Indeed, it was an attack on any democratic society founded on religious pluralism that today faces threats against its Muslim populations,” said Robert Silverman, AJC Director of Muslim-Jewish Relations. “Our thoughts are with the families of the worshippers senselessly murdered, and with the injured, who are in need of our prayers.”
Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin joined other world leaders in condemning an attack, first tweeting: “Thoughts & prayers with the Canadian people, @GGDavidJohnston, PM @JustinTrudeau, after the horrific attack on a house of prayer in #Quebec”
— Reuven Rivlin (@PresidentRuvi) January 30, 2017
British Board of Deputies President Jonathan Arkush, who is traveling the country to promote Jewish-Muslim relations, also condemned the attack. “There can be no justification whatsoever for the wanton slaughter of innocents. We pray for the victims and their families, and call on all communities to redouble efforts to defeat the evils of bigotry and terrorism for good,” he said.
The building, called the Grand Mosque, located in the Quebec City suburb of Ste-Foy, has experienced several isolated incidents of vandalism against it since its founding five years ago, including a pig’s head left on its property last June during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.