Is­lam­o­pho­bic protest sees clashes

Far-right pro­test­ers and anti-fas­cists clash at anti-mus­lim protest

The McGill Daily - - News - Gre­goire Beaune News Writer

On Satur­day March 4, lo­cal far-right groups ral­lied in re­sponse to a na­tional call­out is­sued by the Cana­dian Coali­tion of Con­cerned Cit­i­zens (CCCC) to op­pose mo­tion M103. The mo­tion in ques­tion would con­demn Is­lam­o­pho­bia and track in­ci­dents of hate crimes against Mus­lims.

While the protest had been called for na­tion­wide by the CCCC, the rally was mainly or­ga­nized in Mon­treal by La Meute, a far-right group founded by Is­lam­o­pho­bic exmil­i­tary mem­bers, and now count­ing thou­sands of sup­port­ers on­line. Pa­tri­otic Euro­peans Against the Is­lami­sa­tion of the West (PEDGIDA) Que­bec also made an ap­pear­ance, along with non-af­fil­i­ated racist skin­heads. The protest that took place in Mon­treal had a dis­tinctly neo-nazi char­ac­ter, which distin­guished it from the more gen­er­ally con­ser­va­tive make up of the protests or­ga­nized in Toronto and Ot­tawa.

De­spite the group’s size on­line, only around 100 fas­cist pro­test­ers ral­lied, with their ranks slowly in­creas­ing as they be­gan their march at Place Ém­i­lie- Gamelin at 10:30 a.m.. They made their way to­wards Mon­treal’s City Hall, while a few anti-fas­cist pro­test­ers fol- lowed them and at­tempted to dis­rupt the march by throw­ing rocks at the far-right demon­stra­tors.

Their con­tin­gent ar­rived at the of­fi­cial rally lo­ca­tion at 11 a.m., and was im­me­di­ately con­fronted by a rapidly grow­ing num­ber of anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tors, many of whom be­longed to groups such as An­tifa, the Rev­o­lu­tion­ary Stu­dent Move­ment, the Con­cor­dia Stu­dent Union, The Col­lec­tif de Re­sis­tance Anti-raciste de Mon­tréal.

Sev­eral scuf­fles oc­curred in the first hour, with far-right pro­test­ers charg­ing at the anti-fas­cists hold­ing ban­ners, and be­ing beaten back, be­fore the po­lice sep­a­rated the two groups. The anti-fas­cist pres­ence grad­u­ally grew to up to at least 300 pro­tes­tors, and was adamant in shut­ting down the far-right rally, de­spite heavy riot po­lice pres­ence pro­tect­ing the far-right protest.

Anti-fas­cist chants such as “Say it loud, say it clear, Mus­lims are wel­come here!” and “Nazi scum off our streets” gar­nered con­sid­er­able pub­lic sup­port. Anti-fas­cist pro­test­ers burned a Que­bec flag with con­fed­er­ate sym­bol­ism in the plaza.

“Just like Is­lam­o­pho­bia is the cur­rent con­veyor of ha­tred against Arabs and mi­grants, the re­ac­tionar­ies will find other ban­ners to rally be­hind,” said Mou­ve­ment étu­di­ant révo­lu­tion­naire in a state­ment to The Daily.

By 12:30 p.m., the far-right rally started its way back to Place Ém­i­lie-Gamelin, which prompted the counter pro­tes­tors to at­tempt to fol­low them and shut them down. The po­lice set up lines to block the counter-pro­test­ers path, and fol­low­ing a scuf­fle be­tween anti-fas­cist demon­stra­tors and the po­lice, anti-fas­cist pro­test­ers de­cided to run up St-de­nis Street to hope­fully catch up with the far-right demon­stra­tion. In the en­su­ing hour and a half, anti-fas­cist pro- testers re­peat­edly and un­suc­cess­fully at­tempted to get past po­lice lines.

Fi­nally, by 2pm, the anti-fas­cist march ar­rived at Emily Gamelin, which had been en­tirely evac­u­ated by the far-right demon­stra­tors, who de­mo­bi­lized in the BERRI-UQAM Metro sta­tion, so as to avoid tar­get­ing. To fur­ther pre­vent iden­ti­fi­ca­tion, they aban­doned their signs and sev­eral flags, which anti-fas­cist pro­test­ers pro­ceeded to burn in the street.

“The counter protest against La Meute was both nec­es­sary and em­pow­er­ing,” a protester who wished to re­main anony­mous told The Daily. “Fas­cism and racism have no place in our so­ci­ety and they can­not be al­lowed to or­ga­nize on the streets. Di­rect ac­tion against the or­ga­nized far-right is the only way to en­sure that they ha­tred and big­otry does not be­come nor­mal­ized and in­flict vi­o­lence on those they see as ‘un­de­sir­ables.’”

Théophile Vareille | Pho­tog­ra­pher

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