Muslims have an important responsibility in the fight against terrorism, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday as authorities continued to search the Montreal home of a suspect in an attack at the Flint, Mich., airport.
“Unfortunately, you cannot disconnect this type of event — terrorism — from Islam in general,” Couillard said.
He pointed to remarks made recently by French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he said was “very eloquent about this when addressing the Muslim community in France.”
“He told them ‘It’s also your responsibility to act on the theological front to explain to your people that is not part of the religion — that it’s contrary to the teachings of the religion,'” Couillard told reporters in Quebec City.
The comments, which came in response to a question about whether he was concerned Quebec Muslims would face a backlash following the Flint attack, represent a departure for the premier, who normally calls for unity in the wake of such events.
In the same exchange with reporters, Couillard added that, with respect to “any intolerance, any discrimination, you know where we stand.”
“We are completely against that and against any generalization to the broader community,” he said.
He then, in attempt to explain himself, added that there were “very bad moments in our history linked to the Christian religions.”
“Inquisitions, religious wars in Europe — horrible. But the religion was able to distance itself from that and come back to its principles. I expect the same will happen.”
U.S. authorities have identified Amor Ftouhi, a Montreal resident, as the suspect in the stabbing of a police officer at Flint’s Bishop International Airport.
The FBI is treating the attack as an act of terror.
The RCMP began searching Ftouhi’s apartment in the city’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Wednesday evening.