Fox News forced to apologise for false tweet about identity of Canadian Mosque shooter

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canadian-pm-trudeau-and-his-wife.jpgCanadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and his wife Sophie Grégoire Trudeau place flowers at a memorial at the Québec City mosque.

The office of the Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau has forced Fox News to apologise and retract a "false and misleading" tweet that inaccurately described the suspect in the Québec City mosque shooting as a man of Moroccan origin. The shooter was actually a white Canadian college student.

Six people were fatally shot in the back as they prayed at the mosque on Sunday. Another 19 people were wounded. On Tuesday two people remained in critical condition.

Shortly after the attack police had arrested two men and by midday on Monday, police had clarified that only one was a suspect. Fox News later sent out a tweet on Monday afternoon - shortly after the police clarification - suggesting there was just one suspect in the attack who was of Moroccan origin.

The Fox News tweet made no mention of the other man arrested, French-Canadian Alexandre Bissonnette, who now faces six charges of first-degree murder and five of attempted murder. Those who know Bissonnette have described him as pro-Donald Trump, anti-immigration and sympathetic to the far right.

While the Fox News story linked to the tweet had been corrected, the erroneous tweet had been retweeted more than 900 times and had racked up 1,600 likes.

In a letter to a top official at the network, Purchase asked Fox News to retract or update the tweet to reflect the suspect's identity as a 27-year-old French-Canadian.

"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," she wrote.

The letter continued: "We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities. To paint terrorists with a broad brush that extends to all Muslims is not just ignorant - it is irresponsible.

Within hours, Fox News apologised for the error.