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Attacker's message 'was clear', say Muslim leaders following shots fired at Montreal mosque

Last Updated Apr 10, 2021 at 9:17 am MDT

MONTREAL – Leaders in Montreal’s Muslim community are speaking for the first time after a mosque was shot at earlier this week.

Bullet holes in the front windows of the place of worship remain after a masked individual was caught on video shooting at least 11 shots from a possible compressed air gun early Monday evening.

READ MORE: Montreal mosque shot at Monday night, no reported injuries

The Muslim community was left shaken.

“The tragedy of Quebec City is still fresh in our memories. We didn’t forget what happened. Innocent people were killed. In this place, we have Aymen Derbali who testified about what he was suffering in his body, so it was hard for all the community,” said Imam Adil Charkaoui, who also works with Collective Anti-Islamophobia.

“Of course, we were terrified about our children. The children who come to the mosque, parents who bring their kids and trust them to us to take care of them. All of this, of course, terrifies the community as easily someone is pointing a gun and shooting,” said Salam Elmenyawi, president of Muslim Council Montreal.

At the time of the shooting, just before 7 p.m. Monday, 12 adults were taking part in an Arabic course happening inside the Centre Communautaire Islamique Assahaba in Montreal’s Rosemont.

“[There] was no panic because they did not understand it was a gun outside,” said Charkaoui.

Fortunately, no one was injured and there was only material damage to the window.

Mosque officials learned of the attack when they saw a bit of glass nearby the window and checked their surveillance camera.

In the CCTV footage, they saw what appears to be a man wearing a mask, in grey sweatpants and a black hooded sweatshirt, walking in the middle of the residential street, coming to a stop, lifting up his hand, and shooting.

The suspect then fled the scene and the mosque filed a police report the next day.

WATCH: Shots fired at Montreal mosque

“It’s very important for police to make sure to find that culprit because if they go free then it’s going to be repeated,” said Elmenyawi.

Montreal police say their hate crimes unit is investigating the incident, collaborating with mosque officials, trying to identify possible suspects using the surveillance footage that was originally posted on the mosque’s Facebook page.

“The video and those pictures help the police first. And they help us to send a message to all society it was unacceptable,” said Charkaoui.

“All these are attacks on mosques. Sometimes the same mosque attacked three or four times,” said Elmenyawi.

This mosque has been targeted before, along with other Muslim places of worship last fall in a string of attacks.

Community leaders calling on the province to recognize the issue and are asking those of all faiths to take a stand against the violence.

“[The attackers’] message is clear: ‘We don’t like you here. We have an issue with you,’” said Elmenyawi.

“We have to send a clear message that those minority cannot divide us,” said Charkaoui.