Anti-radicalization protest turns violent in Montreal
Collège de Maisonneuve staked out by pro-secular charter, anti-Adil Charkaoui protesters
CBC News Posted: Mar 29, 2015 4:20 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 29, 2015 4:20 PM ET
CBC News Posted: Mar 29, 2015 4:20 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 29, 2015 4:20 PM ET
Anti-Muslim radicalization and anti-racism protesters clashed outside of a Montreal post-secondary institution on Sunday afternoon, leading to one arrest.
A pro-secularism protester holds up a sign that reads, ‘Secular against Islamization’ outside Collège de Maisonneuve in Montreal. (CBC)
Duelling demonstrations by a small group of secular charter supporters and a group of anti-racism protesters turned violent after a man was attacked with picket-sign sticks.
Two men from opposing sides got into an altercation that led to the anti-racism protester getting attacked with wooden sticks.
The site of the protest, Collège de Maisonneuve, made headlines last month when it was reported that five of its students had left the country to join jihadists in Syria.
Exclusif - Une manifestation prévue samedi par le groupe controversé Pegida Québec a été vivement dénoncée à Montréal, à Québec et à Ottawa. Mais le porte-parole de Pegida Québec affirme que le rassemblement sera pacifique et que son groupe veut tout d’abord stopper « l’islamisation de l’Occident ».
En entrevue téléphonique avec Radio-Canada, Jean-François Asgard indique que le SPVM a été informé du trajet de la manifestation. M. Asgard dit que son groupe compte se réunir dans le secteur du « Petit Maghreb », au nord-est de Montréal. Le cortège passerait ainsi devant le Centre Communautaire Islamique de l’Est de Montréal.
« Ça va de soi que, d’après l’itinéraire qu’on a déposé, sur notre chemin, il y aura la mosquée d’Adil Charkaoui. On a l’intention de faire un arrêt là pour pouvoir dénoncer, lancer un message », dit-il.
M. Asgard estime qu’il est important de dénoncer « l’islamisation » de l’Occident en général et du Québec en particulier. « L’islam doit se réformer ou quitter l’Occident », dit M. Asgard, qui se décrit comme un « patriote ».
Le conseiller municipal de Projet Montréal, Sylvain Ouellet, a dénoncé la tenue de l’événement. Après avoir reconnu que le « droit de manifester est garanti par la Charte des droits et libertés », M. Ouellet a poursuivi en faisant valoir que « l’incitation à la haine est non seulement illégale, mais inacceptable ».
By Tracey Lindeman, CBC News Posted: Mar 28, 2015 1:40 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 28, 2015 5:21 PM ET
Two women at the anti-PEGIDA protest share a laugh together while waiting to see whether members of the pro-nationalist group, anti-Islam group would show up. (Radio-Canada)
A march organized by sympathizers of a Europe-based anti-Islam, anti-immigration group called PEGIDA was cancelled on Saturday after hundreds of people showed up to protest against PEGIDA itself.
The self-described leader of the relatively new PEGIDA Québec chapter, Jean-François Asgard, told Radio-Canada that ”Islam needs to reform itself or leave the West.”
Well-known activist Jaggi Singh said PEGIDA is a collection of neo-Nazis, Islamophobes and internet trolls. (Radio-Canada)
Jaggi Singh of the No One Is Illegal activist group helped organize Saturday’s counter-protest.
Hundreds of people toting signs denouncing racism and Islamophobia arrived 30 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the PEGIDA march, set to take place in a largely Muslim community in Montreal called Little Maghreb.
Just over 100 people had RSVP’d to PEGIDA Québec’s march, while nearly 900 members of Antifa (anti-fascism) and other anti-racist groups said they would attend the counter-demonstration.
“There’s no way that their demonstration will be able to go where they want to go. They won’t be able to pass. The police have given them permission to march, but that doesn’t mean people in the neighbourhood or anti-racist groups are giving them permission to march,” he said.
The anti-Islam group had submitted its march itinerary to Montreal police. A number of officers were on the scene to keep an eye on any violence.
What is PEGIDA?
The organization is popular with neo-Nazis and other nationalists and is often spoken about favourably on white supremacist online forums such as Stormfront and National Front.
PEGIDA, which in German stands for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, first popped up in October 2014. The relatively new group began in Dresden, Germany and uses Facebook as a main organizing tool.
By Tracey Lindeman, CBC News Posted: Mar 28, 2015 1:40 PM ET Last Updated: Mar 28, 2015 1:40 PM ET
Sympathizers of a Europe-based anti-Islam, anti-immigration group called PEGIDA have set up a local chapter in Quebec and are planning on demonstrating in Montreal on Saturday.
The self-described leader of the PEGIDA Québec chapter, Jean-François Asgard, told Radio-Canada his beliefs are closely aligned to those espoused by the National Front, a British political party exclusive to white people that advocates for repatriation of all non-white people to their countries of origin.
“Islam needs to reform itself or leave the West,” Asgard said.
Anti-racist protesters, meanwhile, are also planning a counter-demonstration for the same place and time.
Jaggi Singh of the No One Is Illegal activist group said the intention of the counter-protest is to surround the PEGIDA marchers and prevent them from walking into Little Maghreb, a largely Muslim community in the Montreal neighbourhood of St-Michel.
“Neo-Nazis, Islamophobes, internet trolls — they all sort of congregate around this thing called PEGIDA,” Singh said.
A proposal by two McGill law faculty students to have women-only hours at the downtown campus gym is causing an uproar at the Montreal university.
Soumia Allalou, a second-year McGill law student, started the proposal for women-only gym hours along with fellow student Raymond Grafton. (Photo used with permission from Soumia Allalou)
When student Soumia Allalou, 23, decided to get back into shape, she contacted the university’s gym and asked when women-only hours were. She was surprised to find that there was no such thing.
“Personally I prefer to work out in a women-only environment. I just kind of assumed they would have women-only hours. I asked them if there was a project for that in the works and they said that they didn’t think so,” said Allalou, who wears a hair covering and cites religious reasons for her preference. She took to Facebook to voice her concerns.
“I feel like there are many women who have a variety of reasons for preferring to work out in a women-only environment. Whether it’s how comfortable they are, whether they have had bad experiences at the gym in the past, whether they have less access to the machines. A lot of women tell me they feel intimidated in the weights section,” said Allalou.
The Federal Court of Canada has ruled it is “unlawful” for Ottawa to order new citizens to remove their face-covering veil when taking the oath of citizenship.
The federal government must immediately lift its existing ban allowing Toronto’s Zunera Ishaq to reschedule a new citizenship ceremony unless it appeals the ruling and receives the permission to suspend the order, the Federal Court said in a decision released Friday.
While it is not unusual to have government policies overturned in breach of Charter and constitutional rights, the court ruling is unusual because the decision was based on the finding that the ban mandated by the immigration minister violated the government’s own immigration laws.
“To the extent that the policy interferes with a citizenship judge’s duty to allow candidates for citizenship the greatest possible freedom in the religious solemnization or the solemn affirmation of the oath,” wrote Justice Keith M. Boswell, “it is unlawful.”
Ishaq was sponsored by her husband to Canada from Pakistan in 2008 and successfully passed the citizenship test in November 2013.