Fox News has been forced to apologise and delete a tweet which incorrectly identified the alleged gunman in the Quebec mosque shooting as being of Moroccan origin.
The tweet remained online even after police confirmed that sole suspect Alexandre Bissonnette, is a 27-year-old man of French-Canadian origin.
The right-wing news channel was taken to task by Kate Purchase, the director of communications at Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office.
Purchase shared her letter of complaint to Fox on Tuesday, a day after the attack, which saw six people shot dead and dozens injured.
Vowing to “continue to stand up for our citizens”, she said: “Sadly, this misleading information has been left to stand on the Fox News Channel’s twitter account and continued to circulate online even now.
She continued, accusing the channel of dishonouring the memory of the 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.
After an unmistakable dig at Donald Trump’s planned wall with Mexico, she then took aim at his Muslim refugee ban, signing off: “If we allow individuals and organisations 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.”
Refet Kaplan, the managing director for FoxNews.com, issued an apology.
“FoxNews.com initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday,” Kaplan wrote in a statement sent to Huffington Post Canada on Tuesday evening.
“The earlier tweets have now been deleted. We regret the error.”
Premature reports from Quebec authorities had claimed two suspects were in custody after the attack. It was later clarified that Mohammed Khadir was a witness to the shooting and had called the police, and was not a suspect who was charged along with Bissonnette.
Quebec authorities have released the names of the six people killed in a shooting attack at a mosque.
They have been identified as Mamadou Tanou Barry, 42; Abdelkrim Hassane, 41; Khaled Belkacemi, 60; Aboubaker Thabti, 44; Azzeddine Soufiane, 57; and Ibrahima Barry, 39.
Bissonnette, who has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder, is a fan of French far-right leader Marine Le Pen and Trump.
Trudeau has described the attack as a “terrorist attack on Muslims.” The Prime Minister said in a statement that it is “heart-wrenching to see such senseless violence” and he vowed that Canadian law enforcement “will make every effort to apprehend the perpetrators of this act and all acts of intolerance.”