Tensions in Outremont as councillor and Hasidic community face-off
Published Wednesday, March 14, 2012 9:29PM EDT
A purim celebration turned to confrontation last Thursday after Outremont's Hasidic community faced off with city councillor Celine Forget as she says she tried to enforce local bylaws.
According to Forget, members of the Hasidic community were blocking residential streets with illegally parked buses. The councillor called Outremont Public Security, at which point she was surrounded by a mob.
"People go house to house and give out food baskets, we go dance and celebrate. The school kids go around in buses for their safety," said Mayer Feig of the Gate David of Bobov Synagogue.
"Every holiday, every public event in the community, she is there trying to start trouble. Trying to stir emotions and we've just had it as a community."
According to Feig, years of disputes about the levels of accommodations in the community have seen Forget attempt to intimidate them.
A video of the incident on YouTube shows Forget surrounded by members of the Hasidic community as they yell "get lost" and "get out."
"Yes, she was attacked after she attacked us. She was not really attacked because she came in on our holiday to ruin the holiday," said a member of the community. "She came in, and when people are having a good time you don't bother them."
That was the latest in a series of confrontations between Forget and the community. In 2007, Forget faced an assault charge after a member of the Hasidic community claimed that she tried to run him over with her car. That same year, she brought the same community to court for operating a synagogue she claimed violated zoning bylaws.
"These are religious fanatics trying to create their own laws through intimidation," said Pierre Lacerte, who operates a blog, Accommodements Outremont, which chronicles what he deems unreasonable accommodations made to the Hasidic community.
"It's their opinion that I'm targeting them, what can I say," Forget said in 2007, denying that she was targeting the community.
Forget did not return a request for comment.