Surrey RCMP is increasing patrols around the city’s eight Muslim mosques as well as gathering centres and schools following the mass shooting in Quebec.
Corporal Scotty Schumann said police are still waiting to hear more from investigators in Quebec City’s Ste-Foy district about what exactly transpired Sunday night.
“For now, we’re continuing an increased presence,” he said.
Police are asking the public to call if they see anything suspicious taking place near Surrey’s Muslim centres.
Six men were killed and 19 others wounded during evening prayers at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec mosque. Alexandre Bissonette, 27, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder and five counts of attempted murder while using a restricted gun.
Meantime, the executive board of the BC Muslim Association, which is based in Richmond, has advised all its management committees to “ensure that safety and security” is provided to all its worshipers, employees and students and that its properties “are kept secure at all times.”
The BC Muslim Association also called on its members to assign emergency contacts, make sure security systems are working and are being monitored and to “hire local security if need arises.”
Daud Ismail, president of the BC Muslim Association, said the province’s Muslims “call upon the authorities to help protect all locations of worship from such violent and illegal acts. It is our belief that no group or individual in a free and just society should live in fear because of their ethnicity, faith or religious beliefs.”
Ismail said the BC Muslim Association stands “in solidarity with Muslims during this time of sadness, and prays that the community is able to use the tenets of their faith to heal in the wake of this tragic incident.”
Moreover, he noted that a place of worship is a “sacred sanctity and should always be maintained irrespective of one’s faith.”
This is not the first time the Surrey RCMP has increased its patrols around local places of worship following a deadly attack thousands of kilometres away.
In 2011, Mounties kept vigil over Whalley’s two Coptic Orthodox churches – St. George and Saint Mary – after a deadly terrorist attack against their church in Alexandria, Egypt, and subsequent threats made here in Canada and elsewhere in the world. It was reported at the time that threats had been posted against Coptic Christians here in Canada, on an al-Qaeda website.
The suicide bombing killed 21 and injured 97.
Surrey’s churches did not receive any threats but the Surrey RCMP nevertheless increased its presence around them.
“Without a doubt there’s heightened awareness that we have to be vigilant at times like this, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Sergeant Dan Gibbons told the Now at the time.
Tony Sourial, a deacon at Saint Mary, used to attend the bombed church before he moved to Canada.
“It’s sad,” Sourial said, in a quote for the ages. “We cannot figure out a reason. Anyone in his mind cannot really put it together. We’re just praying in a church, coming out, enjoying ourselves, chitchatting, and there you go – a bomb. I don’t know. Some lunatics, I guess.”