QUEBEC – A year after their son killed six Muslim men inside a Quebec Mosque, the parents of the suspected murderer published a statement on Wednesday calling their son’s actions “inexcusable” and “totally inexplicable.”
“Alexandre is still our son whom we love and who will always be a part of our family. Like all parents, we hoped to see him succeed and be happy in life,” Manon Marchand and Raymond Bissonnette wrote in a letter sent to Radio-Canada, Global News reported.
“In a way, we have also lost a son,” they added.
The suspect is facing 12 charges, including six counts of first-degree murder, and his trial is scheduled to begin next March 26.
He killed six men: Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42, Abdelkrim Hassane, 41, Khaled Belkacemi, 60, Aboubaker Thabti, 44, Azzeddine Soufiane, 57, and Ibrahima Barry, 39, in addition to injuring 19 people, five of them seriously.
The letter was welcomed by Muslims, including a Montreal-area imam whose 2017 eulogy during the funeral service for the slain men received worldwide attention.
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Imam Hassan Guillet saluted the parents’ letter as important for the healing process of the community.
“I am happy they sent the letter and salute their courage,” he said.
“I was waiting for it. Not necessarily today, but the healing process is different for everyone. It was important what they did, not just for them, but for others.”
Guillet said he didn’t blame the accused killer’s family for the shooting because “we don’t know what influenced him.”
The Imam said, however, that there are what he called, “arsonists,” who are playing with fire in Quebec society by continuously spreading hateful messages about Muslims.
“There are people who are propagating hate … I call them arsonists. They don’t know the consequences of what they do,” Guillet said.
The president of Quebec mosque, Mohamed Labidi, has also welcomed the parents’ letter.
“I saw how much they suffered after this tragedy,” he said. “But for us, (their suffering) can’t be an impediment to justice. And that justice needs to be done, also.”
“In Islam, it’s written clearly, each soul is responsible for their own acts. You can’t connect the family to (Bissonnette’s) actions,” he added.