Scheer makes statement on mosque attacks after backlash for no mention of Muslims

First statement was condemned quickly online for failing to specify that the attack was on Muslims

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer issued two statements on the terrorist attacks in New Zealand on Friday — the second after being criticized for not mentioning in the first that the attack was against Muslims at mosques during their Friday prayers.

Two Conservative MPs have also cancelled an event on Monday with a British parliamentarian who has been accused of promoting anti-Islamic sentiments “out of respect” for Muslims reeling from the attacks that killed 49 people.

Scheer posted to Twitter and Facebook late Thursday evening in Canada as news of the attacks was reported, saying ”freedom has come under attack” and mentioning “peaceful worshippers” and a “despicable act of evil.”

“All people must be able to practice their faith freely and without fear,” he wrote.

But the statement was condemned quickly online for failing to specify that the attack was on Muslims, during prayers at mosques. Some pointed to the fact he did name Coptic Christians and call out anti-Semitism in previous tweets when killers attacked Egyptian churches in 2017 and a synagogue in Pittsburgh last fall.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims criticized the omission in a statement Friday afternoon.

READ MORE: Quebec City Muslim worshippers condemn fatal New Zealand mosque attacks

“While some of our elected leaders sadly choose not to mention ‘Muslim’ or ‘mosque’ while denouncing the Christchurch attacks, the reality is that these horrific shootings and the Quebec City mosque attack on Jan. 29, 2017, have left Canadian Muslim communities – and indeed, Muslims around the world – feeling very vulnerable and unsafe,” wrote the Council’s executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “It is therefore essential that our elected leaders speak out clearly and unequivocally against such attacks and name them for the Islamophobic terrorist attacks that they are.”

The statement does not mention Scheer by name but at that point, he was the only Canadian political leader whose public response to the attacks did not mention either Muslims or mosques.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement condemned the attacks as terrorism and said everyone must work to “confront Islamophobia.”

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh tweeted that “Islamophobia kills.”

Green Leader Elizabeth May did not mention Muslims in her first Tweet but retweeted several others who did.

Former Conservative Maxime Bernier, now the leader of the People’s Party of Canada, hadn’t posted anything about the attacks at all by late Friday.

Scheer’s office did not respond to an initial query about the statement’s not mentioning Muslims but after being asked about the statement from the National Council of Canadian Muslims, his spokesman responded with a link to a new statement on Scheer’s Facebook page.

“As Canadians are learning the horrific details of last night’s terror attack at two New Zealand mosques, I wish to express both my deep sadness at the tragic loss of innocent life and my profound condemnation of this cowardly and hateful attack on the Muslim community,” it said.

It said Conservatives stand with Muslims around the world to “reaffirm our commitment to building a world where every people, of every faith, can live in freedom and peace together.”

A month ago, Scheer was criticized for sharing a stage on Parliament Hill with a cross-Canada truck convoy mostly protesting Liberal inaction on the energy industry but which included some people promoting hatred. Scheer said he was only there to support the energy workers, not the “other elements that tried to associate themselves with the event.”

Those “elements” were people affiliated with the Canadian Yellow Vest movement, whose Facebook page included some comments celebrating the New Zealand attacks Friday.

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Garnett Genuis tweeted Friday that Monday’s reception with Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the British House of Lords, has been cancelled.

Genuis, an Edmonton-area MP, and fellow Conservative MP Kelly Block of Saskatchewan were to co-host the reception with Cox, who has shown support for Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and has said she believes Muslims are trying to destroy Western democracies with Shariah law.

Toronto Liberal MP Judy Sgro pulled out of the event after she found out about Cox’s participation. Genuis initially rejected calls to follow suit, calling it a talk on human rights, and accused Sgro on social media of retreating only after she remembered this is an election year.

He said in a statement Friday that Cox’s views are subject of “some debate, and perhaps some confusion.”

“With that said, our friends in the Muslim community are now reeling from one of the most horrific and appalling terrorist attacks to ever target their community,” he wrote. “Out of respect for them, now is not the time for a conversation that could been (sic) misconstrued to take place on Parliament Hill. As such, the event will not be proceeding as planned.”

Mia Rabson, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Saanich to potentially host first hydrogen fuel station on Vancouver Island

Station proposed for corner of Quadra Street and McKenzie Avenue

Saanich to recognize Coun. Judy Brownoff for a quarter century on council

Award presentation will take place Monday evening

Greater Victoria Harbour Authority to fall fake eagle tree at Ogden Point

Last year a fake tree was installed to try to entice eagles to stay in the area, without much success

Saanich police arrest suspected purse snatcher after witness tracks him down

Man known to police attempted to steal the purses from Red Robin restaurant

Ambitious B.C. Aviation Museum need $10M to get iconic Lancaster back in the air

Volunteers flock to work on bomber, restoration expected to take 10 years

Victoria hosts ‘Ultimate Hockey Fan Cave’

The hockey cave was recently featured on a Netflix special

Inspirational Vancouver Island youngster dies after battle with brain cancer

Kaiden Finley ‘was seriously the strongest 11-year-old’

Is it a homicide? B.C. woman dies in hospital, seven months after being shot

Stepfather think Chilliwack case should now be a homicide, but IHIT has not confirmed anything

Indecent caller handed 18-month conditional sentence

Vancouver Island man pleaded guilty to making indecent phone and video calls to women across B.C.

Sources say Trudeau rejected Wilson-Raybould’s conservative pick for high court

Wilson-Raybould said Monday “there was no conflict between the PM and myself”

First Nations public art piece stolen in Nanaimo

Spindle Whorl went missing over the weekend, according to Nanaimo RCMP

Father-son duo at B.C. Children’s Hospital helps new dads fight depression

The pair teamed up to introduce the only known research-based mindfulness workshop for new dads

Mexican restaurant in B.C. told to take down Mexican flag

General manager of Primo’s Mexican Grill in White Rock: ‘I’ve never heard of anything like this’

B.C. NDP moves to provide tax credits, tax cut for LNG Canada

Provincial sales tax break of $596 million repayable after construction

Most Read