News broke last night of a deadly attack on a mosque in Quebec City, Canada, by two masked perpetrators, leading to six Muslim worshipers being murdered and eight more injured. Facts are still somewhat sketchy, but unlike here in the USA under the Obama administration, Canadian politicians were not slow to label this a terrorist attack.
Mainstream media outlets quickly tied this violence to President Trump’s just-issued moratorium on refugee and immigrant entrance to the US from certain Muslim countries that have been sponsors of terrorism. Time will tell.
Both perpetrators have been arrested, though no information on them or their motivations has been released to date. Initial news reports, quite naturally, contain conflicting “facts.” An eyewitness claimed that the assailants were shouting “Allahu akbar” in a Quebecois accent as they fired their weapons, leading to speculation that they are locals. They are either Muslims (using “Allahu akbar” in earnest), or they are non-Muslims using the term in a mocking way or in an attempt to throw investigators off-track.
Rumors are swirling about the identity of the attackers. Both are said to be in their 20s, one a native Quebecer, and the other of Moroccan descent. Another unsubstantiated report claims that information over a police scanner gave the names (both Arabic) of the two under arrest and identified them as recent Syrian refugees. (This seems highly doubtful to me, but again, time will tell).
It is certainly possible that this will turn out to be have been inspired by xenophobic, anti-Muslim bigotry, triggered by right-wing extremists acting out their malice on innocent Muslims. Sadly, hatred seems to be grabbing more and more hearts as indiscriminate violence on “one side” begets the same on the other. Jesus said, “Those who live by the sword will also die by the sword.” He didn’t mention the heartbreaking truth that oftentimes many innocents are caught up in the mayhem as “collateral damage.”
It is also possible that this is not a right-wing hate crime, but an intra-Islamic one. Far too much evidence around the world demonstrates Muslim on Muslim murders as sectarians label believers of other sects “infidels” or apostates and so execute them according to Sharia’ law as they understand it. Sunni vs. Shia’, Deobandi vs. Ahmadi, Muslim Brotherhood vs. moderates, Salafi vs. non-Salafi, and so on. We may discover that the perpetrators in this atrocious attack were motivated by a Muslim, sectarian agenda.
Still another possibility is retribution against the mosque or some prominent members due to a perceived slight or actual trespass against one or both of the perpetrators. Add to this the likelihood of mental illness often tied to such heinous acts and you have a recipe for carnage.
As I mentioned, time will tell, as facts replace rumor, and as new organizations rein in their wild speculations and focus on the actual evidence. In the meantime, we should withhold our judgments and castigations, and remember above all that even after all the facts have come out we are powerless to restore the lives of those unjustly murdered, and to erase the grief of those bereft of their loved ones. May the God of all comfort break through their sadness and lead them to hope in the One who holds the keys to Death and Hades.