Canada slams Fox News for fake news over Quebec attack

By Amy Chen, Vancouver

Canadian government berated Fox News today for falsely tweeting to more than 13 million Twitter followers that the mosque attack in Quebec Monday that killed six worshippers and critically wounded five others had been carried out by a person “of Moroccan origin,” even after the RCMP confirmed that the sole suspect was Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a far-right extremist inspired by United States President Donald Trump and France’s extreme right leader Marine Le Pen.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s communication director Kate Purchase asked Fox to remove the “false and misleading” tweet in a strongly worded email.

“Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens,” Purchase said. “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.”

“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 within our communities,” she pointed out. “We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities. Muslims are predominantly the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world. To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant — it is irresponsible.”

Fox News deleted the tweet within hours of receiving the email, and Purchase thanked the media outlet for doing so.

Katie Purchase’s statement in full:

It has come to my attention that a Fox News tweet posted on Twitter at 12:31pm, January 30, 2017, contains false and misleading language relating to the identity of the suspect in the Quebec mosque terror attack. I have attached a copy of the tweet for your reference.

Over the course of the day, this proved to be false information. In fact, the suspect was identified as a 27 year old French Canadian – not ‎someone of Moroccan-origin.

Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s twitter account and continued to circulate online even now.

Canada is an open, welcoming 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.

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 within our communities.

We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities. Muslims are predominantly the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world. To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant – it is irresponsible.

If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer. It makes us weaker. 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.

For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. ‎

Kate Purchase

Director of Communications

Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

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