Local Muslims, political leaders react to New Zealand shooting with shock, concern

News of Friday's horrific massacre of Muslims in New Zealand began to filter out as people were waking up on this side of the world.

Some early risers made their way to morning prayers at St. Laurent's Islamic Centre of Montreal, and greeted the news with shock, and concern for their own safety.

"I don't feel very safe, to be honest," one man told CJAD 800 on Friday morning. "People should be free to do whatever they want."

"Where do we want to go? Do we want to be welcoming, or do we want this to continue?" another man said. "We have to put a stop to this."

Meanwhile, at City Hall, mayor Valerie Plante tweeted her condemnation of the New Zealand attack.

"Hatred against anyone because of their religion, their social status, their origin, the colour of their skin or their sexual orientation is to be condemned unequivocally," she wrote. "My thoughts are with the families of the victims of the tragedy that occurred in Christchurch in New Zealand."

Lights to be turned off at City Hall

Later, she announced the flags at City Hall would be lowered to half-staff, and the lights would be turned off on Friday night, in memory of the 49 people who were murdered.

Meanwhile, in Quebec City, premier François Legault termed the attacks "unacceptable", adding there's no room for such extremism in the world, and noting that the emotions being felt among some halfway around the world at the moment were felt first-hand by members of the Quebec City mosque where six people were shot to death on Jan. 29, 2017.

"It's a shame," Legault said. "I want to tell all the poeple in New Zealand and people from the Muslim communities that my thoughts are with them, and we denounce strongly what happened."

The head of the Quebec City Islamic Cultural Centre, Boufeldja Benabdallah, says his thoughts are also with the families of victims in Quebec City who are being forced to relive what they went through in January 2017.

He said people in his community are feeling indescribable pain, adding that it is time for lawmakers to legislate against extremism.

"Imagine the children of those families here in Quebec City who hear about the shootings on the radio, probably, and who hear their mothers crying and ask, 'well, why are you crying, mother?'" he told reporters Friday morning. "And she will remember the night of the 29th, when she ran to find her husband, who was killed by Alexandre Bissonnette. It's an indescribable pain."

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also condemned the fatal shootings in New Zealand, saying the attack on people during prayers is "absolutely appalling.''

In a brief statement on Twitter today, the prime minister said Canadians join New Zealanders and Muslim communities around the world in grieving.

-The Canadian Press contributed to this report.