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Face behind shocking Quebec mosque shooting revealed: A French Canadian university student

QUEBEC, Canada – French-Canadian university student Alexandre Bissonnette was charged on Monday with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder in connection with the shooting at a Quebec City mosque.

In a white prisoner suit, with his hands and feet in chains, Bissonnette did not enter a plea during a brief court appearance late on Monday.

The 27-year-old, charged with killing six men during evening prayers at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center, had expressed his support for France’s right-wing politician Marine Le Pen and U.S. President Donald Trump on his Facebook page.

“It’s with pain and anger that we learn the identity of terrorist Alexandre Bissonnette, unfortunately known to many activists in Quebec for taking nationalist, pro-Le Pen and anti-feminist positions at Laval University and on social media,” Francois Deschamps an official of the group, Bienvenues aux Refugiés, or Welcome to Refugees, wrote on his Facebook page.

Besides the six dead, 19 more were wounded.

Of the five victims who were still in hospital, two were in critical condition, authorities said.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard both condemned the terrorist attack in the strongest terms.

In an emotional message, speaking directly to the more than one million Muslims who live in Canada, the Canadian PM said, “We are with you.”

“Make no mistake, this was a terrorist attack. This was a group of innocents targeted for practicing their faith,” he said.

“To the more than 1 million Canadians who profess the Muslim faith, I want to say directly, we are with you; 36 million hearts are breaking with yours.”

He urged Canadians to stand in solidarity with those affected by the attack. “We will grieve with you, we will defend you, we will love you and we will stand with you.”

Trudeau along with the Quebec premier and an estimated 12,000 of others braved the winter cold to attend a candlelight vigil near the mosque to lay flowers and candles in the snow.Thousands of similar vigils were held across Canada on Monday, where people stood in solidarity with Muslims.

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Dutch Mosques Lock Their Doors During Prayer Times After Canada Attack

Four of the largest mosques in the Netherlands yesterday announced that they would lock their doors during prayer times after six people were killed in an attack on a mosque in the Canadian province of Quebec.

In a statement, the four mosques said, “We feel that we have to lock the doors of the mosque when prayers are taking place”. Many surveillance cameras have also been set up in the Al-Azraq mosque which is located in the south-western outskirts of the Dutch capital.

Thousands of worshippers take part in the prayers that are held in the four mosques daily. Saeed Bouhro told Agence France-Presse (AFP) that the “barbaric acts such as the Quebec attack contribute to increasing the global hatred of Muslims”. He continued by saying that “the mosque is an open building that should be available at all times throughout the day for anyone looking for peace and tranquillity…But we must be cautious of such terrorist attacks. It is unfortunate that we are forced to take these strict safety procedures”.    »»» ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English ed.

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Canada Passes Motion Condemning Islamophobia

Canada is again setting the pace for promoting multiculturalism in the western hemisphere. Canadian parliament passed a federal motion condemning Islamophobia. The motion was based on an e-petition sponsored by parliamentarian Liberal MP Frank Baylis; the original e-petition received more than 70,000 votes. Here is the full text of the petition:

Whereas:

Islam is a religion of over 1.5 billion people worldwide. Since its founding more than 1400 years ago, Muslims have contributed, and continue to contribute, to the positive development of human civilization. This encompasses all areas of human endeavors including the arts, culture, science, medicine, literature, and much more;

Recently an infinitesimally small number of extremist individuals have conducted terrorist activities while claiming to speak for the religion of Islam. Their actions have been used as a pretext for a notable rise of anti-Muslim sentiments in Canada; and

These violent individuals do not reflect in any way the values or the teachings of the religion of Islam. In fact, they misrepresent the religion. We categorically reject all their activities. They in no way represent the religion, the beliefs and the desire of Muslims to co-exist in peace with all peoples of the world.

We, the undersigned, Citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons to join us in recognizing that extremist individuals do not represent the religion of Islam, and in condemning all forms of Islamophobia.

The motion was proposed earlier this year but was objected to by a number of conservative MPs. When it was voted on for a second time at the end of October, it was unanimously approved. Despite Canada having taken several steps to combat Islamophobia, Islamophobic attacks have more than doubled over the last 3 years.

The National Council of Canadian Muslim’s Executive Director, Ihsaan Gardee, said, “This motion sends a strong message to Canadians that discrimination and hatred against Muslims is unacceptable… Canadians want and expect strong leadership from our elected officials when it comes to fostering inclusive communities.”

At a time when the U.S.A. has elected a President who has vowed to put a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the U.S., creating a database with personal information of American Muslims and sending Syrian refugees residing in the U.S. back to Syria, motions like this are a breath of fresh amidst a challenging climate. I may not live there, but just knowing the motion was passed, and that our Canadian brothers and sisters can rest a little easier at night, is a cherished thing; thank you, Canada.    »»» Sailan Muslim Foundation (Sri Lanka)

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A Wave of Harassment After Trump’s Victory

Hundreds of incidents of harassment and intimidation have been reported across the country since Election Day. Below are just a few:

• In Wellsville, N.Y., a softball dugout was spray-painted with a swastika and the words “Make America White Again.”

• At the University of Pennsylvania, black students were added without their permission to a group text-messaging chat about “lynching” using the app GroupMe. The creators of the group scheduled a a “daily lynching” through the app’s calendar.

• At York County School of Technology in York, Pa., white students walked through hallways carrying a Trump sign and shouting “white power.”

• At First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Fla., signs reading “whites only” and “colored” were posted above drinking fountains.

• In Koylton Township, Mich., a Mexican-American family woke to find a “wall” made of cardboard boxes blocking their driveway. The boxes and driveway were defaced with graffiti with references to Donald Trump.

• In Murfreesboro, Tenn., a gay couple found a note with a homophobic slur on their doorstep. The note was pinned to a package by a knife with a picture of Donald Trump on its handle.

• At the Episcopal Church of Our Saviour in Silver Spring, Md., a banner for a Spanish-language service was defaced with the words “Trump nation” and “whites only.”

• In Columbus, Ohio, a man approached a Muslim woman and her family while their car was stopped at a light. He banged on the car, shouted obscenities, photographed the children and told the woman, “you don’t belong in this country.”

• In Meriden, Conn., a man holding a Trump sign and waving an American flag was punched and kicked by two men.

• In Durham, N.C., two walls were spray-painted with the message “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your votes.”   »»» The New York Times

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Fremont hiker who wore a bandanna for sun protection finds anti-Muslim note on car

A hiker who wore a bandanna for sun protection returned from her walk to find an anti-Muslim note telling her to leave America.

Nicki Panchol, who is not Muslim but wore the headscarf to protect her skin against the harsh California sun, was horrified to find her car had been trashed, her purse stolen and the racist note on her car.

‘Hijab wearing bitch,’ the letter read. ‘This is our nation now get the fuck out’.

‘When I saw it, I was in shock,’ Panchol told the San Francisco Chronicle. ‘That someone would feel so much hate to do this. I realize that this is the climate after this election. But I didn’t realize someone would be so ignorant and in so much pain to cause so much harm.’

The 41-year-old, who has lupus, said she was left so shaken by the incident that she did not return to Mission Peak Regional Preserve in Fremont, California, since the incident last week.

Police are still investigating the incident which they have classified as a hate crime.

Geneva Bosques, a spokeswoman for the Fremont Police Department, called the crime ‘very disturbing.’

‘We are obviously very upset and saddened that this happened in our community,’ she said.

Panachol had pulled into the Mission Peak Regional Preserve parking lot at around noon on November 14.

Carolyn Jones, public information supervisor for the East Bay Regional Park District, said the victim spent around an hour vlogging in the parking lot for a ‘peace project’ before setting out on the hike.

When she returned at 4pm, she discovered her car had been broken into; someone has smashed a window, and her purse was missing. She also found the upsetting note.

‘Everyone is welcome, and this is a deplorable thing,’ Jones said.

There has been a flurry of hate crimes against minorities following Donald Trump’s surprise election win earlier this month.

  • Just days after Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, police said a female student at the University of Michigan was approached by a white man who threatened to set her on fire if she didn’t remove her hijab. Police are still investigating the hate crime.
  • Two students at a vocational school in York County, Pennsylvania, held a Donald Trump sign in a hallway as someone shouted ‘white power,’ an incident captured on video and widely shared on Facebook.
  • In Silver Spring, Maryland, a banner advertising a Spanish-language service at an Episcopal church was slashed and the words ‘Trump nation. Whites only’ were written on the back.
  • Authorities on two California State University campuses, in San Diego and San Jose, were investigating reports that two women wearing headscarves were attacked.
  • At San Diego State University, authorities said a Muslim woman had her car keys and vehicle stolen by two men who targeted her while she wore a hijab and made comments about Donald Trump’s election.

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‘Hey ISIS, you suck’ US Muslim group says with giant billboard

What would the Prophet Muhammad think of the Islamic State group? Not much according to a non-profit US Muslim organisation that launched a poster campaign in the US this week.

Sound Vision used a giant billboard in a suburb of Chicago, saying “Hey ISIS, you suck”, quoting the Quran’s “Life is sacred” and signing it “From: #ActualMuslims”.   »»» Middle East Eye (UK)

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The unknown Muslim who has kept America safe

A Muslim American is the person “most responsible for keeping America safe since the Sept. 11 attacks,” wrote former CIA acting director Michael J Morell in the New York Times last week. Mr Morell was referring to “Roger”, an American convert to Islam (he cannot be identified because he still works for the agency) who headed the CIA’s counterterrorism centre for almost 10 years.

The extraordinary fact that American counterterrorism efforts were led by a Muslim for most of the past decade is unknown to most Americans, including Muslims. Yet it upends almost all stereotypes, even most positive perceptions, about the relationship between Muslim Americans and the dangers of, and responses to, terrorism.   »»» The National (UAE)

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Muslims refuse to bury France priest killer Adel Kermiche

Muslims in France have refused to bury a jihadist who killed a priest in Normandy earlier this month.

Adel Kermiche, 19, was one of two men who entered a church in Saint-Étienne-du-Rouvray and held a group hostage before slitting the throat of Father Jacques Hamel and seriously wounding another captive.

Community leaders in the town said they do not want to ‘taint’ Islam by having any association with Kermiche.

Speaking to Le Parisien, Mohammed Karabila, president of the local Muslim cultural association and imam of one of the local mosques, said: ‘We’re not going to taint Islam with this person.

The 84-year-old Jacques Hamel died on July 26, 2016 after his throat was slit after two attackers stormed the church during a morning mass, taking the five people inside hostage, including the priest, interior ministry spokesman said.

‘We won’t participate in preparing the body or the burial.’   »»» Metro News (UK)

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Linking Islam to violence is wrong: Pope

Pope Francis says it was wrong to identify Islam with violence and that social injustice and idolatry of money were among the prime causes of terrorism.

“It is not right to identify Islam with violence,” he told reporters. “This is not right and this is not true.”

Francis was responding to a question about an 85-year-old Catholic priest who was forced to his knees by attackers, who then slit his throat. The attack was claimed by Islamic State.

“I think in nearly all religions there is a small fundamentalist group,” he said. “We have them,” he added, referring to Catholicism.

“I don’t like to talk about Islamic violence because every day when I look at the papers I see violence here in Italy – someone killing his girlfriend, someone killing his mother-in-law. These are baptised Catholics,” he said.

“If I speak of Islamic violence, I have to speak of Catholic violence. Not all Muslims are violent,” he said.

   »»» Times (Johannesburg, SA)

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Elderly Catholic priest killed in French church, attack claimed by Islamic State

A priest in his mid-80s was killed with a knife and another hostage seriously wounded on Tuesday in an attack on a church in northern France carried out by assailants linked to Islamic State.

Both attackers were shot dead by French police. Five people in all had been taken hostage. A police source said it appeared that the priest had had his throat slit.

Speaking at the scene of the attack in the Normandy town of Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray, French President Francois Hollande said France should “use all its means” in its war against the militant group, against which France has launched air strikes in Syria and Iraq.

The president called it a “dreadful terrorist attack” and told reporters the attackers had pledge allegiance to IS. The IS news agency Amaq said two of its “soldiers” had carried out the attack.   »»» Reuters

It appears that the partisans of Daesh (ISIS) do not read their Qur’an as often as they should.

“If God had not overpowered some people by the might of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which God’s praise is celebrated daily, would have been utterly demolished.” (Qur’an, 22:40)

“Nearest in love to the Muslims are those who say, “We are Christians”: because amongst them are men devoted to
learning [priests] and men who have renounced the world [monks], and they are not arrogant.” (Qur’an 5:85)

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