Quebec has its “demons” in terms of attitudes toward Muslims, but Premier Philippe Couillard says the province is generally an open and accepting society.
“Xenophobia, racism and exclusion are present here,” he told a news conference in Quebec City on Tuesday. “We have to acknowledge that and work together.”
Couillard was being grilled by reporters two days after someone entered a Quebec City mosque and shot six people to death and wounded several others.
On Monday the Quebec Coroner’s Office confirmed the names of the six victims of the shooting:
M. Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42 years old;
M. Abdelkrim Hassane, 41 years old;
M. Khaled Belkacemi,60 years old ;
M. Aboubaker Thabti, 44 years old ;
M. Azzeddine Soufiane,57 years old;
M. Ibrahima Barry, 39 years old.
Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, has been charged with murder and attempted murder in the massacre.
According to what appears to have been his Facebook account, Bissonnette was a fan of U.S. President Donald Trump, French far right leader Marine Le Pen and the Israeli armed forces.
Quebec has had to contend in recent years with a controversial debate over race and religious accommodation. The previous Parti Quebecois government called for a ban on ostentatious religious symbols such as the hijab in public institutions.
Asked on Tuesday whether the atmosphere is “more insidious” in Quebec than elsewhere, Couillard replied “it is different in every community.”
“Every society has to live with its demons,” he replied. “Our society is not perfect. No society is.”
He again urged Quebecers to work together and to continue expressing solidarity with the Muslim community.
Town of Brome Lake, in solidarity after the tragedy of Sainte-Foy
On behalf of the Elected Representatives, employees of the Town and the Bromois population, I would like to express our solidarity and deep sympathies to the families of the victims, the people of Quebec City and the entire Muslim community in Quebec. The flags of Quebec are at half-mast as a sign of solidarity and support.