In just two days since the fatal shooting by white supremacist Alexandre Bissonnette, who opened fire at a Quebec mosque, killing six people, the nearby city of Montreal has seen 14 reported hate crimes, Montreal police chief Philippe Pichet said Tuesday.
According to Melanie Lajoie, a spokesperson with Montreal police, that’s a dramatic increase, but the numbers have been on the rise since at least 2013. There were 81 reported hate crimes in 2013, 89 in 2014, 112 in 2015 and 137 in 2016.
The force responded to Sunday night’s attack by announcing Monday that officers will be increasing their presence and surveillance at mosques around the city.
“We have to be honest about this. Islamophobia is rising and has been rising for so long,” Samer Majzoub, Canadian Muslim Forum president, told Global News.
Bissonnette, who held anti-feminist, anti-immigrant, pro-Trump and pro-Israel views, entered the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec in Sainte-Foy Sunday evening. The victims of his shooting rampage were Aboubaker Thabti, Azzedine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Ibrahima Barry, Abdelkarime Hassane and Mamadou Barry. He has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder with a restricted firearm.
While Trudeau has condemned the shooting, he has remained mum on U.S. President Donald Trump’s executive order banning people from seven Muslim-majority countries and halting all refugees.
On Saturday, Trudeau tweeted, “To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #WelcomeToCanada,” without explicitly admonishing the ban. On Monday, Trudeau said the government must stand up for its values and protect jobs, just days after the prime minister welcomed Trump’s decision to revive the Keystone XL pipeline.
While the Quebec shooter was a fan of Trump who had likely taken some inspiration from his bigoted views and others empowered by his ascendancy, the province of Quebec has a deep-seated history of Islamophobia. In 2013, the governing Parti Québécois proposed a bill titled the “The Quebec Charter of Values,” which sought to ban religious symbols in public, but had explicitly targeted Muslim women and the niqab.