The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, has today condemned a gun attack on a mosque in Québec City, Canada, which claimed the lives of six people.
“We deplore this senseless and despicable attack committed by cowards who have no regard for the sanctity of life or places of worship,” she said.
“The Commonwealth stands united against those who perpetrate such violence. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the families affected, the local community, and Canadians, and Muslims everywhere who are victimised by extremists.”
Authorities are investigating the shooting at the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre that occurred late on 29 January 2017. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has described it as a terrorist act.
Addressing a new faith initiative by the Association of Commonwealth Universities today, the Secretary-General offered the Commonwealth Secretariat’s assistance to all countries facing extremist violence.
In her keynote speech, she confirmed a new unit which has been established at the Secretariat will help member countries to counter violent extremism by developing strategies for countering all forms of radicalisation.
“The new Commonwealth Countering Violent Extremism Unit will support our member states with devising and implementing their own national strategies for countering all forms of radicalisation, and for strengthening their national human rights institutions and the rule of law,” she said.
In a statement issued overnight, Prime Minister Trudeau described the “tremendous shock, sadness and anger” he felt following the attack. “Diversity is our strength, and religious tolerance is a value that we, as Canadians, hold dear,” he said.
“Muslim-Canadians are an important part of our national fabric, and these senseless acts have no place in our communities, cities and country. Canadian law enforcement agencies will protect the rights of all Canadians, and will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance,” he said.