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A strongly-worded letter from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's office has prompted Fox News to apologize and delete a false report, posted on Twitter, that incorrectly described the alleged gunman of the Quebec City shooting as a Moroccan.
Kate Purchase, director of communications in the Prime Minister's Office, pointed out the "false and misleading language" in a letter to the American television news network's co-president Bill Shine that was released to the media Tuesday.
"Canada is an open, welcoming country that stands by its citizens," she writes, describing the country as a "nation of millions of immigrants and refugees" and "hundreds of cultures, languages and religions."
"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."
The tweet appeared to emanate from early police reports in the wake of the shooting that said two suspects had been taken into custody. Later reports said one of those people was not a suspect, but a witness who was helping one of the victims with first aid following the tragedy.
Purchase said the tweet appeared early on Monday afternoon. The false news report spread rapidly and was shared by many, feeding anti-muslim and other extremist views. Police have confirmed that the sole suspect, Alexandre Bissonnette, is a 27-year-old man of French-Canadian origin.
"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," Purchase writes.
"We need to remain focused on keeping our communities safe and united instead of trying to build walls and scapegoat communities."
The reference to building walls wasn't the only veiled reference to U.S. President Donald Trump.
"Fear does not make us safer; it makes us weaker," she writes.
"Ramping up fear and closing our borders is not a solution. It distracts from the real issues that affect people's day to day life."
After removing the offending tweet, Fox News apologized, according to The Guardian.
“FoxNews.com initially corrected the misreported information with a tweet and an update to the story on Monday. The earlier tweets have now been deleted,” Refet Kaplan, the managing director at FoxNews.com, said in a statement, reported by the British newspaper. “We regret the error.”
Editor's note: This report was updated at 5 a.m. ET on Wednesday with a new statement from Fox News.