National Council of Canadian Muslims ‘relieved’ as Quebec mosque attacker changes plea to guilty

Alexandre Bissonnette

THE National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), a prominent civil liberties and advocacy organization, said on Wednesday that it is relieved that Alexandre Bissonnette pled guilty in a Quebec Superior Court to multiple counts of murder and attempted murder in relation to the shooting attack on the Centre culturel Islamique de Québec (CCIQ) on January 29, 2017.
NCCM Executive Director Ihsaan Gardee and Vice Chair Khalid Elgazzar attended this week’s trial proceedings in Quebec City and were in the court room on Monday when the initial ‘not guilty’ plea was entered by Bissonnette, much to the dismay of survivors and families of the victims. Just five hours later, Bissonnette pleaded guilty to all charges.
When asked why he was now entering a guilty plea, Bissonnette told the court, “In my heart, I made the decision to spare the victims and their families from going through a trial and reliving the tragedy.”
A publication ban was in place on Monday afternoon’s proceedings pending a psychological assessment of Bissonnette. When court resumed Wednesday morning, the psychologist testified the accused was in full understanding of the consequences of his plea. Bissonnette then read a statement to the court and the presiding judge accepted the guilty plea. In his statement, Bissonnette said he was ashamed of his actions and asked for forgiveness.
“We are relieved by today’s guilty plea, as it spares the survivors, the families, and the CCIQ community from a drawn-out trial that would cause them to relive the immeasurable pain and anguish of that horrific attack,” said Gardee.
“We hope that the guilty plea will provide a level of comfort and closure to the survivors and the families of the six Canadian Muslims brutally murdered while worshipping in their mosque. We stand in solidarity with them and they will always be in our thoughts and prayers.”