A shooter opened fire at the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec on January 29, killing six and wounding eight more. On the January 30 edition of Premiere Radio Networks’ The Sean Hannity Show, Hannity ran through a list of past violent attacks allegedly tied to Islamic extremism, ending with “somebody, it’s reported, said ‘Allahu Akbar’” at the mosque attack, in an attempt to tie the attack to Muslims:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): This is since Obama’s been president. Let’s start. LA shooting at an airport. Remember that? An Egyptian national. March of 2006. An SUV attack, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, injuring pedestrians. Remember the, in Seattle, the Jewish Federation shootings, remember that?
Remember all these incidents of terror that have occurred on American – Fort Hood, Texas? Remember, Army Major Hassan, 44, open fire, military processing center, killing 13, wounding 32 others. Army recruitment office in Little Rock, Arkansas. Or the Boston bombing that took place with the Tsarnaev brothers. Or the terrorist attack, three in Washington, one in New Jersey. Ali Muhammed Brown, gunned down, Leroy Henderson, et cetera, et cetera.
The hatchet attack in New York, do you remember that back in 2014. The Garland, Texas art exhibit shooting, remember that incident? The Islamic State, they claimed responsibility for that. The Chattanooga, Tennessee military facility shooting, remember that? You remember the U.S. University of California Merced stabbings, you remember that one? You remember the San Bernardino, California shooting? Do you remember the Philly policeman shooting? Do you remember the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting? Do you remember the Chelsea, New York, Seaside, New Jersey bombings? Do you remember the Minnesota mall stabbings?
Do you remember the Ohio State University incident with the Somali-born Ohio State student? Did you watch what happened in Quebec when somebody, it’s reported, said “Allahu Akbar” this weekend? Now, the facts are very simple if anybody cares to look at truth and fact versus fiction.
Hannity’s misinformation made it’s way through conservative media following reports from fake news purveyors central to the alt-right, Gateway Pundit and Prison Planet, both of which claimed the shooter had shouted “Allahu Akbar.” They cited a then-live-updating CBC report claiming a witness heard the gunman yell “Allahu Akbar” as he fired. According to the most recent reports, the suspect in custody is alleged to be an “obviously pro-Trump” 27 year old white French Canadian who has been described as an “anti-immigrant far-right ‘troll’.”
Hannity was not alone in using the eyewitness report to falsely insinuate a Muslim had committed the attack. Alt-right outlets across the internet parroted false reports that the attacker was a Muslim, or used the “Allahu Akbar” report to insinuate that he was. Gateway Pundit even attacked mainstream media outlets that did not repeat their Islamophobic fearmongering, claiming these outlets were “those who hid the truth,” and had promoted “alternative facts.” Fox News also initially reported the attacker “was of Moroccan origin” before correcting themselves, and White House press secretary Sean Spicer used the Quebec mosque attack to defend the administration's dangerous and "un-American" Muslim ban.
Hannity ended his rant by claiming “the facts are very simple if anybody cares to look at truth and fact versus fiction.” Indeed, the facts are simple -- a white French Canadian with anti-immigrant beliefs and sympathies for extremist politicians like Marine Le Pen and Donald Trump is the singular suspect for the attack, and there is absolutely no sign he is a Muslim. The eagerness with which Hannity, Gateway Pundit, Matt Drudge, and other far-right media jumped the gun or ignored newly-reported facts to prop up their own Islamophobic narrative provides the latest example of fake news and alternative facts being used to advance a harmful agenda.