Lawyers for Alexandre Bissonnette, the Quebec City mosque killer, say their client is “particularly troubled” that his name is being linked to the mass shootings at two New Zealand mosques Friday.
At least 49 people are dead and many others seriously injured in Christchurch, located on New Zealand’s South Island in the Canterbury region, following the attacks during Friday prayers.
Commissioner Mike Bush confirmed 41 of the victims were killed at Al Noor mosque on Deans Avenue and seven were at a mosque on Linwood Avenue. Another died at Christchurch Hospital.
Charles-Olivier Gosselin and Jean-Claude Gingras released the statement Friday, stating the convicted killer does not want his acts to be imitated nor to serve as a model for others “to follow in his footsteps.”
They say Bissonnette “deeply regrets” what he did and has been very affected by the shootings in New Zealand.
WATCH: Christchurch shooting coverage on Globalnews.ca
The lawyers were responding to unconfirmed reports the shooter in New Zealand was influenced by Bissonnette, who shot dead six worshippers in a Quebec City mosque in January 2017.
Bissonnette was sentenced on Feb. 8 to life behind bars without the possibility of parole for 40 years — the harshest prison term ever in Quebec.
A now-deleted Twitter account that is believed to be linked to the accused New Zealand shooter shows what appear to be three assault-rifle magazines, one of which has Bissonnette’s name on it.
Mosque shooting in Quebec
Muslims in Quebec City say they are in shock after hearing about the mass shootings in Christchurch, a little more than two years after their own community was attacked.
Boufeldja Benabdallah, head of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, says his thoughts are also with the families of victims in Quebec City, who are being forced to relive what they went through.
He adds people in his community are feeling indescribable pain.
“I’m convinced they are feeling a terrible pain. Imagine the children of those families here in Quebec who are hearing it on the radio and will watch their mothers cry and ask, ‘Why are you crying?”’ Benabdallah said.
“The mothers will remember the 29th, when they ran to get husbands who were killed by Alexandre Bissonnette.”
Benabdallah added that amid the mourning, it is time to speak out against extremism in all its forms.
WATCH BELOW: Quebec City mosque gunman Alexandre Bissonnette appeals sentence
“We must get back to work once again to explain, to tell these extremists of all stripes who politicize religion, like extremists who use race as a basis for discrimination, that we must change,” Benabdallah said.
“The world cannot continue like this.”
The Christchurch shootings come days after Crown prosecutors filed an appeal handed down to the Quebec City killer.
Both the Crown and the attorney general are seeking to have the inadmissibility period raised to 50 years.
During sentencing, the Crown had sought 150 years, which could have been the longest sentence in Canadian history.
Lawyers for Bissonnette said they are also appealing the killer’s sentence, asking that he be eligible for parole in 25 years.
— with files from The Canadian Press.
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