PEGIDA Quebec protest against 'islamization' of society cancelled
Published Saturday, March 28, 2015 2:35PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, March 28, 2015 6:19PM EDT
A planned protest Saturday of the “islamization” of Quebec society by a controversial group was cancelled before even started
The group Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, known as PEGIDA, had planned a demonstration in the Little Maghreb neighbourhood of the Villeray—St. Michel—Parc Extension borough.
Soon after those plans emerged, the Revolutionary Communist Party (RCP) organized a counter-demonstration against islamophobia to take place across the street.
It was supposed to be a show down, with the anti-islamophobia group scheduled arriving up 30 minutes before the PEGIDA rally was to begin. But while hundreds showed up to the anti-islamophobia rally, only a handful of PEGIDA supporters made it out to their event. Not long after 4 p.m., when the PEGIDA protest was set to begin, police announced their rally was cancelled.
Police say they escorted a handful of PEGIDA supporters away from the area for their own protection, and no arrests were made.
On Facebook, the group said it cancelled its event "for the safety of its members," saying that "we all know how Allah fanatics can be violent."
PEGIDA started in Germany and now has an offshoot in Quebec. Its Facebook page says the group is a “citizen movement that denounces government inaction” in stopped “unreasonable accommodation.”
The group says Sharia law is slowly seeping into Quebec society, and worries that Christmas and Easter vacation will soon become winter and spring vacation, and that our calendars “will become halal.” PEGIDA claims it is not against Islam, but rather wants to protect Quebec culture, heritage, values, and language.
The RCP says PEGIDA “sows fear of ‘the Other,’ intolerance and lies” in Europe and the Quebec group is trying to bring that same climate over to Quebec.
“These fear campaigns divide workers, students, families. Meanwhile, they prevent us from uniting against the real enemies, those who cut jobs, who are pocketing profits,” their website reads.
Mohammed Souhail Ftouh said he is a Muslim man and PEGIDA supporter because he is against the radicalization of his religion.
"I go out from my country, Tunisia, because of the radicalism of islamists and now we are meeting the same problem of these radical persons here. If I go out of my country to live here it's to be free," he said.
Politicians at all levels including Mayor Denis Coderre, members of Projet Montreal, and NDP MP Alexandre Boulerice have all criticized PEGIDA and its motives, saying groups with messages of intolerance are not welcome in Montreal.
Hundreds of people gathered Saturday, March 28, 2015, at a rally to denounce PEGIDA, a group that claims to be against the "islamization" of Quebec. (Aphrodite Salas/CTV Montreal)
Montreal police form a line during a rally against islamophobia in Quebec. A protest by PEGIDA, a group against the "islamization" of Quebec, planned to take place across the street was cancelled. (Aphrodite Salas/CTV Montreal)
A woman holds up signs during a demonstration to denounce the anti-Islam group PEGIDA in Montreal, Saturday, March 28, 2015. Graham Hughes/THe Canadian Press