Six men slaughtered. Killed in cold blood while peacefully praying inside their local mosque. This week’s mass murder in Quebec City sent shockwaves, not just across Canada, but the whole world.
Irrespective of political stripe or profession of faith, there is a categorical acceptance of the fact that this attack ought to be investigated, prosecuted, punished, and condemned.
For many, there is a certain satisfaction in knowing the sole suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is behind bars, facing eleven charges of first degree, and attempted murder.
But for others, questions remain.
Questions about facts that are less categorical than the need to condemn the attack. Questions about who was involved and what motivated them. And why one narrative was seemingly deleted, and replaced by another.
Twelve hours after the attack, the official media narrative involved not one but two suspects who allegedly yelled, “Allahu Akbar!” while carrying out their murderous rampage.
Witnesses were interviewed across various media outlets. Witnesses who claimed to have been inside the mosque at the time of the attack. All alleged the same: Two assailants stormed in, opening fire while shouting, "Allahu Akbar!" As of Monday morning Canada’s state broadcaster, the CBC, conducted television interviews with witnesses who, again, corroborated the story.
Thirteen hours after the attack, police forces from every level, held a joint press conference in which they confirmed they had two "suspects" in custody. So, several hours after the attack, police held in custody a man who later was identified as 29-year-old engineering student Mohamed Belkhadir. Police confirmed they continued to treat Belkhadir as a suspect and detained him as such well after he was apprehended at the scene.
But only a few hours later, Belkhadir’s role in the attack shifted:
From a suspect who attempted to flee the scene, to a good samaritan and witness who was providing first aid to victims when he was wrongfully accused by police.
However, one consideration of how many CCTV cameras are in place around the mosque invites the question: When did police review the security footage and why did it take them over 12 hours to determine that Bissonnette was their sole suspect? Why was Belkhadir held for such a long time?
Bissonnette, a man who police say turned himself in shortly after the attack, and was willing to cooperate with police. If Bissonnette was willing to turn himself in, why hasn’t he revealed his motive to police?
But the mainstream media can't be bothered with tough questions, quickly obsessed with a new narrative based on a few 'likes' on Bissonnette’s Facebook page.
The discovery that Bissonnette liked two of the most popular politicians on earth (US President Donald Trump and France’s Marine Le Pen) quickly transformed the narrative into a story about a young right-wing extremist committing a terrorist act, even if no terror charges have been laid.
Bissonnette's Facebook "likes': on Canada’s leftist NDP Party page, as well as that of their former leader Jack Layton, have attracted far less media attention.
Journalists and high-ranking politicians quickly jumped on the new narrative, condemning the so-called normalization of hate, and even blaming newly minted President Donald Trump for the attack.
Canada’s state broadcaster quickly shifted its tone. By evening, all witness reports involving two suspects or shouts of "Allah Akbar!" were deleted, and replaced with alternative facts. The CBC even interviewed the former suspect Mohamed Belkhadir and, despite his name being a matter of public record by then, the state broadcaster did not include his name or his face, and even scratched his voice!
Moreover, unlike cases of Islamic extremism, there was no apparent journalistic search for mental illness as the root cause.
Instead, media outlets quoted friends and neighbours who described Bissonnette as a polite and introverted individual from a good family. Classmates at Laval University-- even ones who debated politics with Bissonnette -- described him as someone who wasn’t at all hateful. One home video even seems to suggest Bissonnette is something of a conscientious environmentalist. But, again, no details about Bissonnette’s personal life have led the media to ask meaningful questions about what could have caused the suspect to allegedly commit such a heinous crime.
Without police reports on a possible motive, why hasn’t the mainstream media considered things other than Islamophobia?
Is there any relation, say, between one of the victims, Khaled Belkacemi, who was a Professor at Laval and the university student who allegedly committed this act? Or even the other university student who was set free?
I contacted Laval University and asked if either Alexandre Bissonnette or Mohamed Belkhadir ever took a class with the slain professor, but still await the university’s response.
After numerous emails to Quebec’s police media relations contacts, I visited headquarters, but was turned away without an interview.
There very well might be perfectly plausible answers to all the questions I have posed:
About the deletion and replacement of narratives, about why a witness was detained for so many hours before being set free, about the CCTV footage, and about the relations between the accused and the victims.
These are valid questions. Someone simply needs to ask them.
And the answers are out there.
I’d just like to hear them.
To watch all my reports from the scene, visit QuebecTerror.com