A lone gunman, the Canadian authorities have identified as Alexandre Bissonette, opened fire at the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center, which also houses the Quebec City Mosque, in what authorities have described as an act of terrorism.
The six worshipers were immigrants who had moved to Canada to seek a better life.
The six dead include Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, of Morocco; Aboubaker Thabti, 44, of Tunisia; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, and Khaled Belkacemi, 60, of Algeria; and brothers Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, and Ibrahima Barry, 39, of Guinea.
Soufiane was an important member of the local Muslim community. Born in Morocco, he moved to Quebec nearly three decades ago and helped many newcomers to Quebec City settle in properly. His halal grocery shop was said to be popular with many of Quebec’s Muslims.
While Hassane was an IT expert, working as a programmer for the Quebec government. Colleagues describe him as “very peaceful” and “sensitive.” Hassane was a Father of three who had previously lived in Paris and Montreal before settling in Quebec.
CNN reports witnesses as saying Bissonette, 27, fired indiscriminately in to the crowd of worshipers, which included men, women, and children. Police say Bissonette, who was arrested Sunday night, now faces six counts of first-degree murder and five attempted murder charges.
In all, 39 worshipers inside the mosque escaped unhurt while five others were wounded in addition to the six killed.
The mosque shooting is but the latest in a string of attacks that highlight a growing nationalist fervor in North America and several European countries that sometimes results in acts of terror, where immigrants and religious and ethnic minorities are targeted.
There has since been an outpouring of solidarity and grief from many Canadians, with close friends and colleagues of the slain immigrants describing the deceased as hardworking, law-abiding citizens.
In a series of statements issued on its Facebook account, the Quebec Islamic Cultural Center called for calm and urged the public to avoid a knee-jerk reaction as investigations were still ongoing.
“Please wait for preliminary result (of the investigation) before circulating rumours,” the Center said on Facebook. “The situation is very critical.”