Police in Canada have charged the sole suspect in a recent terrorist attack against Quebec City’s grand mosque with 11 charges of murder and attempted murder.
Alexandre Bissonnette, a 27-year-old student who opened fire on worshippers inside Quebec’s Islamic Cultural Center on Sunday evening, was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder on Monday.
He was charged during a brief appearance in a Quebec City court. His lawyer did not enter a plea, and he will next appear in court on February 21.
According to a refugee advocacy group, Bissonnette had been known for his “far-right” views and had reportedly espoused support for the French far-right party of Marine Le Pen.
The gunman went on the rampage at the Islamic Cultural Center as dozens of worshipers had gathered for evening prayers. Six people were killed and 19 others were injured in the attack. Five still remain in hospital, with two of them in critical condition.
Two suspects were immediately arrested. Bissonnette remained a suspect while the other man was being treated as a witness.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described the deadly shooting “an act of terrorism against Muslims,” and extended his sympathy to the more than one million Muslims living in Canada. He also praised Muslims’ role in the country as highly productive.
While attending a candlelight vigil in Quebec City to honor the victims of the attack, he emphasized “community unity” and said Muslims “deserve to feel welcomed and safe, they are home here.”
In a statement issued after the incident on Monday, Trudeau had said, “Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country.”
The attack came just two days after Canada said it would welcome refugees regardless of their faith.
Muslims in Quebec have witnessed several Islamophobic threats in recent years. Last summer, a pig’s head was left on the doorstep of the mosque targeted on Monday, and in 2015, a video threatening Muslims there had gone online.