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The Canadian Who Murdered Six Muslim Men Says He’s Not Islamophobic

Alexandre Bissonnette fatally shot six men during evening prayers.

by Manisha Krishnan
01 April 2018, 11:29pm

The man who murdered six Muslim men when he shot up a Quebec City mosque last January says he’s not Islamophobic.

Alexandre Bissonnette, 28, walked into the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec during evening prayers on January 29, 2017 and killed six men: Azzeddine Soufiane, Khaled Belkacemi, Aboubaker Thabti, Abdelkrim Hassane, Mamadou Tanou Barry and Ibrahima Barry. He critically wounded five victims, including Aymen Derbali, who is paralyzed after Bissonnette shot him seven times.

Bissonnette, a University of Laval student, pleaded guilty to six counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempted murder Wednesday, after initially pleading not guilty. In a statement to the court, he said he doesn’t know why he committed the heinous crimes.

“I don’t know why I did something so foolish,” he said, according to the Montreal Gazette. “I’m not a terrorist, nor an Islamophobe. I was taken over by fear, by negative thinking, by desperation.”

He also asked for forgiveness.

"I'd like to ask for your forgiveness for all the harm I caused you, even though I know what I did is unforgivable.”

Bissonnette said the was pleading guilty to save his victims and their families “from going through a trial and reliving the tragedy.”

After Bissonnette was arrested, a picture emerged of him as a right-wing troll who admired French nationalist Marine Le Pen, who has been vocally Islamophobic.

According to friends and acquaintances, Bissonette is also a vocal supporter of Donald Trump, and trolled a Facebook group for refugees.

Despite the fact that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other politicians referred to the shooting as a “terrorist attack,” Bissonnette was never charged with any terrorism-related crimes.

Mohamed Labidi, the former president of Quebec City's Islamic Cultural Centre, told the CBC Bissonnette words don’t explain why he did what he did.

"A lot of victims, a lot of suffering, at the end, for nothing."

Psychiatrist Sylvain Faucher told the court Bissonnette’s mental state has improved in recent months, and that he’s been medicated for depression and suicidal thoughts.

If made to serve consecutive sentences, Bissonnette could face a minimum of 150 years in prison.

Follow Manisha Krishnan on Twitter.

This article originally appeared on VICE CA.

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