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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