Prime Minister's Office slams 'irresponsible' Fox News Quebec shooting tweet

Jan 31 2017, 11:25 pm

A tweet sent out by Fox News relating to the terrorist attack on a Quebec mosque on Sunday night is being slammed by the Canadian Prime Minister’s Office.

The tweet wrongly claimed the suspect in the shooting, which left six people dead, was from Morocco.

The victims, who were at the mosque for prayers when someone entered and began shooting, were aged between 39 and 60 years old. Five other people were injured.

At the time it was thought two people were initially arrested after the shooting on Sunday. The suspects’ names were not officially released. However that did not stop some media outlets from speculating as to the identity of those in custody, before Quebec Police clarified that one of those arrested was a witness and not a suspect.

Police confirmed that there is only one suspect – French-Canadian man Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, who has no Moroccan heritage. On Monday, Bissonnette was charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder.

Despite this, Fox News is yet to retract or delete its previous tweet.

‘Not just ignorant – it is irresponsible’

On Tuesday, Kate Purchase, Director of Communications for the Prime Minister’s Office, published an email she had sent to Fox News about the tweet.

In her email, Purchase says the tweet contains false and misleading language. The tweet continues to circulate online, she says.

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division with our communities,” writes Purchase.

In a reference to policies touted by US President Donald Trump, Purchase says we need to focus on keeping communities united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities.

“Muslims are predominantly the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world,” she writes. “To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant – it is irresponsible.”

‘One unwavering, unshakable belief’

Purchase says Canada is an open country that stands by its citizens.

“We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages, and religions bound by one, unwavering, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them.”

If we allow organizations like Fox News to succeed in scaring people, says Purchase, we do not end up safer.

“Fear does not make us safer. It makes us weaker,” writes Purchase. “Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.”

Purchase ends by asking Fox News to retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity. At the time of writing, Fox News had taken no such action.