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Mass shooting at Quebec mosque leaves 6 people dead

The tragedy comes as Canada has positioned itself as a refuge for Muslims.

Police respond to a shooting at a Quebec mosque. CREDIT: Screenshot via ABC News
Police respond to a shooting at a Quebec mosque. CREDIT: Screenshot via ABC News

A gunman opened fire during evening prayers in a Quebec mosque on Sunday, killing six people and wounding eight others, in what Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau referred to as a “terrorist attack on Muslims.”

Two people have been arrested in connection with the attack, police confirmed at an early morning press conference on Monday.

“It is heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence,” Trudeau said in a statement following the attack. “Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear.”

Mass shootings are much less common in Canada than in the United States. Annual gun-related deaths are about 51 times higher in the U.S., according to the most recent Canadian data.

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But the tragedy comes as Canada has positioned itself as a refuge for people from Muslim-majority countries, following executive orders from President Donald Trump that restrict Muslim migration to the U.S.

Trump signed an executive order on Friday prohibiting people from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States and temporarily suspending refugee resettlement from all countries — immediately prompting dramatic ripple effects all over the world. Travelers were stranded at airports, families were separated, and people preparing to start new lives in the United States were left in refugee camps.

In response, Trudeau announced that Canada will welcome refugees fleeing violence and war, regardless of their faith. He has also indicated he plans to discuss Canada’s successful immigration and refugee resettlement programs with Trump the next time the two leaders meet.

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Sunday’s shooting isn’t the only attack on a mosque in the aftermath of Trump’s executive order targeting Muslims. Early Saturday morning, just hours after Trump signed the Muslim ban, a mosque in Texas was set on fire.

ThinkProgress has tracked 31 instances of hate directly targeted at the Muslim community in the United States since Trump was elected president.

According to the New York Times, instances of anti-Muslim violence have also been on the rise in Canada. This particular mosque in Quebec has been targeted in the past; last June, in the middle of the holy month of Ramadan, a pig’s head was left on the mosque’s door. And in 2014, a note was left on the mosque’s door reading “Islam out of my country.”

In response to the recent violence, Canadian leaders are encouraging people to stand in solidarity with the Muslim community.

“We are with you. You are at home,” Philippe Couillard, the premier of Quebec, said in a direct address to Muslims living in the city. On Twitter, Couillard urged his fellow Canadians to “unite against violence” and to stand with “the Québécois of Muslim faith.”