THE FAR-RIGHT HELD A RALLY AND NO­BODY CAME

For Canada’s lu­natic fringe, find­ing com­mon ground be­tween racists, Is­lam­o­phobes and ra­bid anti-Semites is prov­ing a tall order

NOW Magazine - - NEWSFRONT - By STEVEN ZHOU

AToronto rally on Au­gust 11 to mark the an­niver­sary of last year’s vi­o­lent “Unite The Right” rally in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, was sup­posed to fea­ture some of the more no­to­ri­ous el­e­ments of North Amer­ica’s far right, in­clud­ing mem­bers of white na­tion­al­ist groups Sol­diers of Odin, the Proud Boys and the North­ern Guard.

Or­ga­nized by the Cal­gary-based World­wide Coali­tion Against Is­lam (WCAI), the event was sched­uled to coin­cide with other ac­tions south of the bor­der, in­clud­ing a march by far­right groups on Wash­ing­ton, DC. A cou­ple of hun­dred anti-fas­cist counter-pro­tes­tors, a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber among them dressed en­tirely in black and wear­ing masks, ar­rived at Nathan Phillips Square to con­front the promised show of force, which never ma­te­ri­al­ized. WCAI leader Joey De Luca, who an­nounced a post­pone­ment of the rally two days be­fore the event, blamed “peo­ple be­ing snowflakes” about the demon­stra­tion be­ing on the same day as the Char­lottesville an­niver­sary.

In­stead, a small group (fewer than the three-dozen cops who showed up, some on horse­back), turned up led by San­dra Solomon, a fix­ture on the lo­cal anti-Mus­lim scene, best known for rip­ping a copy of the Holy Qu­ran out­side of a Mis­sis­sauga Is­lamic Cen­tre ear­lier this year. She was draped in an Is­raeli flag and wear­ing a WCAI Canada T-shirt. Small Cana­dian flags stuck out on ei­ther side of her base­ball cap. Counter-pro­tes­tors quickly de­scended upon her, forc­ing her to take refuge in City Hall through a back door.

Solomon walked out the front door a short time later to record the scene on her phone. A brief but tense con­fronta­tion en­sued in which Solomon was punched by a pro­tes­tor (it’s un­clear if charges will be laid) as she re­treated back into the build­ing. Po­lice im­me­di­ately gath­ered around the en­trance and bar­ri­caded it while City Hall se­cu­rity locked the doors from the in­side. A group of about six of­fi­cers on horse­back charged into the crowd.

The crowds dis­persed shortly af­ter that as the mounted po­lice rode around the square be­fore leav­ing them­selves. De Luca has since an­nounced that an­other gath­er­ing is be­ing planned for next month in Toronto, but it’s hard to see that hap­pen­ing. City staff say no per­mit will be is­sued to the group. The turn of events is an ob­vi­ous ex­pres­sion of just how loose and prone to frac­tur­ing the so-called “coali­tion” of anti-Mus­lim ac­tors is in Canada.

A mOve­meNt iN dis­Ar­rAy

In a sub­se­quent in­ter­view with far­right on­line com­men­ta­tor Duke Wil­lis, De Luca claimed sev­eral times that hav­ing the rally on the week­end of the Char­lottesville an­niver­sary was a to­tal ac­ci­dent.

“When we first an­nounced this rally, it was about that Is­lamic call to prayer,” De Luca says, re­fer­ring to the ad­han made dur­ing Ramadan cel­e­bra­tions at City Hall this and last sum­mer. “And all of a sud­den, it’s a Char­lottesville rally?”

De Luca in­sists that the rally was meant to ad­dress the pro­mo­tion of Is­lam by Cana­dian “elites,” not a show of sol­i­dar­ity with white na­tion­al­ists.

Ex­cept there’s ev­i­dence to the con­trary, in­clud­ing Face­book com­ments by De Luca agree­ing with a man named Bryan Man­gione, who wrote on Face­book, “Wtf I thought it was a good thing that it was the an­niver­sary date of Char­lottesville.”

De Luca re­sponds by say­ing, “Yeah I know it would’ve been great…” and goes on to blame “in­fil­tra­tors” for the fail­ure to mo­bi­lize. Among them, De Luca names Meir We­in­stein of the Jewish De­fence League (JDL).

The JDL head has been a ubiq­ui­tous pres­ence at anti-Is­lam protests in Toronto, op­por­tunis­ti­cally hitch­ing the JDL’s wagon to white na­tion­al­ist el­e­ments among the anti-Mus­lim move­ment, in par­tic­u­lar Sol­diers of Odin. But We­in­stein’s singing a dif­fer­ent tune these days.

In an Au­gust 8 Face­book post con­demn­ing the WCAI’s planned Toronto rally, We­in­stein urged Cana­di­ans to be “united against such hate.”

But, cu­ri­ously, just a few hours ear­lier We­in­stein posted a com­ment on his Face­book page de­fend­ing the WCAI’s rally and crit­i­ciz­ing an ar­ti­cle in the Cana­dian Jewish News by Ron Csil­lag, which pointed out that the ‘Unite the Right’ event in Char­lottesville “saw neoNazis march­ing with tiki torches, giv­ing the Nazi straight-arm salute, and shout­ing, ‘Jews will not re­place us!’”

We­in­stein called Csil­lag’s piece “fake news,” writ­ing that no an­tiSemitism would be ex­pressed by the WCAI protest. Some­time be­tween the af­ter­noon and evening on Au­gust 8, We­in­stein changed his mind.

We­in­stein’s post crit­i­ciz­ing WCAI un­leashed some vile anti-Semitic and Is­lam­o­pho­bic on­line trolling among some of the more no­to­ri­ous names on Canada’s far-right, in­clud­ing Bryan Trot­tier, head of the CDN Wolf Pack, Ron Banerjee of Rise Canada and Solomon, who ac­cused the JDL and We­in­stein of turn­ing their back on her.

“I don’t know what hap­pened to JDL,” she writes. “What a shame try­ing to crush my rally.”

Find­ing enough or­ga­ni­za­tional com­mon ground be­tween far-right racists, Is­lam­o­pho­bic ac­tivists, and ra­bid anti-Semites is prov­ing to be a tall order for Canada’s far right.

This doesn’t mean each camp won’t re­sort to their own ac­tions. For in­stance, on the same day Solomon showed up with her co­terie at Nathan Phillips Square, sev­eral mem­bers of the far-right “pa­triot” group ID Canada (for­merly, Gen­er­a­tion Iden­tity Canada) un­furled an anti-im­mi­grant ban­ner over the Don Val­ley Park­way.

Mean­while, We­in­stein has re­port­edly met with po­lice to ad­dress al­leged threats against him. The white na­tion­al­ist Cana­dian Na­tion­al­ist Front posted on Face­book that they’ll “carve a swastika” on We­in­stein’s face and other threats af­ter his crit­i­cism of the WCAI’s rally. The CNF’s leader is open neo-Nazi Kevin Goudreau, who has a large swastika tat­tooed on his chest.

Counter-pro­tes­tors out­num­bered anti-Mus­lim demon­stra­tors at the Au­gust 11 event to mark the an­niver­sary of last year’s Unite The Right rally state­side.

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