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FACTSHEET: Quebec City Mosque Shooting

Published on 26 Mar 2019

IMPACT: On January 29, 2017, a gunman opened fire on 53 worshippers at the Quebec City Mosque, killing six people and injuring 19 others. The shooter was inspired by Islamophobic and far-right rhetoric, and by opposition to pro-refugee policies in Canada.

On the evening of January 29, 2017, Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27 year-old white Canadian university student, approached the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, a mosque located in Quebec City, with a guitar case containing as semi-automatic .223-caliber rifle and ammunition. Bissonnette attempted to begin firing the rifle, but it jammed. Bissonnette switched to a 9mm semi-automatic Glock pistol. In the span of two minutes Bissonnette fired 48 rounds, reloading four times.

Six people were killed during the shooting: Azzeddine Soufiane, 57;  Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42: Ibrahima Barry, 39; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; and Boubaker Thabti, 44. Nineteen people were also injured, some critically, including Aymen Derbali, Mohamed Khabar, and Saïd Akjour.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau described the shooting as a “terrorist attack,” and the victims as “a group of innocents targeted for practicing their faith.” Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard also described the shooting as a terrorist attack, yet Bissonnette was not charged with terrorism. In March 2018, Bissonnette pled guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder. Rejecting the Crown’s request for six consecutive life sentences (150 years) without the possibility of parole, in February 2019, Bissonnette was sentenced to life in prison, without the possibility of parole for 40 years. In March 2019, Bissonnette’s lawyers filed an appeal to reduce his sentencing time to 25 years before he’s eligible for parole.

Bissonnette reportedly espoused anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant, anti-refugee, far-right, and anti-feminist views leading up to the attack. He was also reportedly fascinated with the shooter who murdered nine African American Christian worshippers at a historic Black church in South Carolina; with President Donald Trump’s Muslim Ban executive order; and with the French far-right.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), with the support of over 70 Canadian Muslim associations and organizations and over two dozen community partners, are calling for January 29th to be designated as a “National Day of Remembrance and Action on Islamophobia.”

In June 2016, during the month of Ramadan, the same Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec was vandalized with a pig’s head wrapped in cellophane, bows, ribbon, and a card that said “bonne appétit.”

Last updated: March 19, 2019

This factsheet is published in collaboration between the Bridge Initiative and researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University. More information about this project can be found here.