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Legault asks police to do their job after Montreal imam allegedly incites hate

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Quebec Premier François Legault is asking the police to intervene after a Montreal imam made alleged calls to hatred and violence.

During a demonstration in support of Palestine last month, Imam Adil Charkaoui, who is already known to police, reportedly prayed unequivocally to God to "take care" of the Israelis.

"God, take care of the aggressor Zionists," he declared, according to a translation obtained by The Canadian Press. "Make sure you don't leave one."

Legault expressed his indignation in a press scrum on Tuesday afternoon, saying, "It's clear that this is "incitement to hatred, to violence."

Though he said he wouldn't order the police around, he did strongly suggest they intervene.

"I'm counting on the police to do their job well. They have to do their job," he said. "It's not up to me to tell them how to do their job, but inciting violence, that's not allowed."

Charkaoui has already been suspected of terrorism by Canadian authorities and has been under surveillance for nine years without charges being laid.

Though Québec Solidaire (QS) celebrated Charkaoui's federal court victory in 2009, the party has since distanced itself from him.

"He's an arsonist in our society," commented MNA Haroun Bouazzi on Tuesday morning. "More broadly, on issues of Islamophobia, he's someone who sets fires more than anyone else in this society. So, obviously, I have no sympathy for him and what he says."

Interim Liberal Leader Marc Tanguay maintains that Charkaoui's statement was "totally unacceptable," noting that he would leave it to the authorities "to see if there are grounds for legal action."

Similarly, Parti Québécois (PQ) Leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon points out that the Criminal Code penalizes public incitement to hatred.

"Never, in Quebec, should we accept that someone can publicly incite hatred towards other people," he said. "I'm asking the authorities to follow up on this, as article 319 of the Criminal Code seems pretty clear to me."

Born in Morocco, Charkaoui was arrested in 2003 under Canada's security certificate system.

Authorities alleged that he was a terrorist and had been trained in a camp in Afghanistan.

His movements were monitored for nine years, but he was never charged with anything.

-- This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on Nov. 7, 2023. 

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