Couillard defends remarks about Muslims and responsibility in wake of Flint attack

Couillard defends remarks about Muslims and responsibility in wake of Flint attack

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard insists there is nothing shocking about his recent comments about Muslims having a responsibility in the fight against terrorism.

Following the arrest of a Muslim Montrealer in the stabbing of a police officer at the Flint airport in Michigan last week, Couillard said terrorist events like it can’t be disconnected “from Islam in general.”

Amor Ftouhi is charged in the attack on airport police Lt. Jeff Neville after someone yelled “Allahu akbar,” the Arabic phrase for “God is great.”

The premier reiterated his comments following a news conference in Quebec City on Wednesday.

“No religion can disassociate itself from acts of violence perpetrated in its name and it’s up to the members of that confession — not only the rest of society — to denounce it in very strong terms,” Couillard said.

“When I say this, I believe that the vast majority of Quebecers — including the vast majority of Quebecers who practise Islam — will agree with me because they say this publicly and privately.”

His initial remarks drew the ire of Quebec’s main women’s group, which said Couillard’s tone had shifted since January’s attack on a mosque in Quebec City that claimed six lives.

Couillard, who met with members of the Muslim community in Quebec City on Tuesday night, brushed aside that criticism, saying his political approach has long been one of inclusion and tolerance.

“It’s not religion, it has nothing to do with religion, it’s a perverted view of religion, a perverted utilization of religion,” he said, referring to attacks carried out in the name of religion.

“And it’s up to the members of these confessions to intervene in a very, very strong way and say this has nothing to do with our religion, no one can invoke the name of God in the name of any religion to kill another human being, particularly an innocent human being, or attempt to kill another being.

“I believe the vast majority of Quebecers agree with this.”

Ftouhi was denied bond during a court appearance Wednesday.

The Canadian Press

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