January 31, 2017 6:56 pm
Updated: January 31, 2017 8:54 pm

Fox News deletes erroneous tweet on Quebec City shooter’s nationality

Alexandre Bissonnette is shown in a photo from his Facebook profile page. Neighbours on a sleepy suburban street where the man charged in the Quebec City mosque shooting was raised say as a kid he played baseball, swam in backyard pools and explored the nearby forest like many local boys.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Facebook
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UPDATE: Fox News has removed an erroneous tweet identifying the alleged gunman in the Quebec City mosque shooting as Moroccan, following a letter from the PMO, communications director Kate Purchase tweeted Tuesday night.

Purchase, who is one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s senior officials, took Fox News to task for describing the alleged gunman as being of Moroccan origin.

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She pointed out the “false and misleading language” in a letter to Fox News Channel co-president Bill Shine that was released to the media Tuesday.

“Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens,” she writes, describing the country as a “nation of millions of immigrants and refugees” and “hundreds of cultures, languages and religions.”

READ MORE: Quebec City mosque shooting: Experts say attack a teachable moment for children

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.”

The tweet appeared to emanate from early police reports in the wake of the shooting that said two suspects had been taken into custody. Later reports said one of those people was not a suspect, but a witness.

Kate

Purchase said the tweet appeared early on Monday afternoon, but as of Tuesday had yet to be deleted despite the fact police confirmed that the sole suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is a 27-year-old man of French-Canadian origin.

It no longer appears on the media outlet’s timeline.

“These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities,” Purchase writes.

“We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities.”

The reference to building walls wasn’t the only veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump.

“Fear does not make us safer; it makes us weaker,” she writes.

READ MORE: Quebec City shooting: Is Islamophobia ‘more manifested’ in Quebec?

“Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.”

READ THE FULL LETTER FROM KATE PURCHASE:

It has come to my attention that a Fox News tweet posted on Twitter at 12:31pm, January 30, 2017, contains false and misleading language relating to the identity of the suspect in the Quebec mosque terror attack. I have attached a copy of the tweet for your reference.

Over the course of the day, this proved to be false information. In fact, the suspect was identified as a 27 year old French Canadian – not ‎someone of Moroccan-origin.

Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s twitter account and continued to circulate online even now.

Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens. We are a nation of millions of immigrants and refugees, of hundreds of cultures, languages, and religions bound by one, unwavering, unshakable belief: we are stronger not in spite of our differences, but because of them.

These tweets by Fox News dishonour the memory of the six victims and their families by spreading misinformation, playing identity politics, and perpetuating fear and division within our communities.

We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities. Muslims are predominantly the greatest victims of terrorist acts around the world. To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant – it is irresponsible.

If we allow individuals and organizations to succeed by scaring people, we do not actually end up any safer. Fear does not make us safer. It makes us weaker. Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people’s day to day life.

For all of these reasons, we ask that Fox News either retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect’s actual identity.

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation. ‎

Kate Purchase
Director of Communications
Office of the Prime Minister of Canada

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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