Truly unbelievable scenes unfolding right now in my former hometown of Ottawa. At least 3 separate shootings in various locations in the downtown core (War Memorial, Rideau Centre, Parliamentary Library). At least 3 total shooters, at least one still on the loose. No suspects or victims identified yet, no one has been able to catch their breath and look into the identities yet.
Schools are in lockdown, most military bases are in lockdown, the National Assembly in downtown Quebec City is closed as well as several other provincial legislative assemblies. Federal office buildings in lockdown, members of Parliament all across the country have closed constituency offices.
For the latest developments, because this story is developing very quickly, please go here (twitter list).
This is particularly scary because the day before yesterday a Canadian Forces soldier was deliberately run down with a car in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu (near Montreal), and the driver, a young guy who seemed not entirely mentally stable, was a known jihadi sympathizer.
Reports from Ottawa say witnesses have described the Cenotaph shooter as a Caucasian man wearing a keffiyah.
When incidents like this happen, Islamophobes have a habit of coming out of the woodwork and claiming this tragedy is the work of an entire religious or ethnic group rather than a small network of deranged people.
I feel compelled to post a press release, which landed in my inbox, from the mosque which the culprit in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu briefly attended.
(PDF in French)
“The Muslim community reiterates its most total condemnation of this criminal act and its wishes that the investigation should take its course to clarify the details of this tragedy.
The community wishes to clarify that the individual concerned had not attended the mosque since approximately two months ago.
In this particular difficult context, the council asks our fellow citizens to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions.
Crime has no religion, colour or country. Dialogue and exchange are the keys to life in a community. … Remember that the ultimate goals of Islam are centred around peace, tolerance and respect.”
Wise words for scary times.