- The growth of hatred and Islamophobia, and personal experiences with racists inspired us to set up the #stophateca roundup. For now, it will be a bi-weekly round-up to document hateful acts and document engagement to confront hate by communities and allies. Please send us things you are doing and incidents you experience. Use the hashtag #stophateca or send an email to email@example.com. There is effective, racist organizing happening in "alt-right" circles in Canada that is bringing a lot of hate out into the open. We need to organize ourselves to fight back.
- While working on this article, we had to wade through a lot of the hateful posts. We won't publish those messages here -- there's no need to give them oxygen. The hatred is being fanned and organized. We must stand up.
- Canadian Coalition for Concerned Citizens' rallies
- On Tuesday March 21, the CCCC organized rallies in city halls across the country again to protest the Liberal's anti-Islamophobia motion, Bill M-103. The next rally is on April 1. Please turn out -- especially in Saskatoon, Quebec City and Ottawa. This anger is not about a non-binding motion in Parliament. It is about empowering bullying, abusive racists.
- Account from Toronto:
- On March 19, 2017, the Canadian Coalition for Concerned Citizens (CCCC), a Montreal-based. far-right, anti-immigration organization, organized a small rally at Nathan Phillips Square to voice its opposition to M-103, the anti-Islamophobia Parliamentary motion. This gathering of strange bedfellows, which included the hate group Soldiers of Odin and the Jewish Defense League (JDL).
- The JDL seemed to put aside its issues with neo-Nazis in order to advance a shared agenda of Islamophobia. They assembled in the west corner of the square to wave Canadian flags and anti-Muslim placards. Several prominent fascists were in attendance, including Meir Weinstein of the JDL, serial harasser Greg Renouf and Lauren Southern, formerly of Rebel Media.
Expecting opposition from anti-fascists, the demonstration was surrounded by a ring of bike police, with mounted cops waiting just behind them. As the square filled with counter-protesters, it became clear that the police outnumbered the CCCC. Anti-fascist activists and allies confronted the demonstrators, chanting slogans, drumming, blowing vuvuzelas and waving placards. For the first hour, the police kept the two groups separated, though they appeared to mainly be protecting the CCCC. Several comrades overheard the police stating that the anti-fascists were the “ones to worry about.” They allowed several demonstrators, including Lauren Southern, to slip through their lines, where antifascists surrounded and pursued them until they were forced to retreat back.
Unable to broadcast their message beyond their own group, the CCCC sang “O Canada,” and in an apparently irony-free gesture, played K’Naan’s “Wavin’ Flag”—a song written by a Muslim Somali refugee who has publicly denounced their organization on Twitter.
By the second hour, the bike police were replaced by two lines of cops in body armour, some of whom were carrying gas masks. Several approached my group and asked us if we “felt safe.” I told them that as a Jew, I couldn’t feel safe with neo-Nazis openly demonstrating in my city. When my friend asked them why they would protect known hate groups, they responded that they were “neutral Switzerland.” Other antifas reported that cops, while claiming to be “protecting both sides,” ignored violent threats from the fascists.
Numbers at both the fascist rally and counter-demonstration dwindled throughout the day. At about 2 p.m., the remaining 30 or so fascists marched to the CBC building, protected by the police, who kettled anti-fascists. Antifa tried to physically stop the march by locking arms, only to be brutally pushed and shoved by the police and fascists working in tandem, with cops using their bikes to shove activists to the ground. The fascists were permitted to chant racist slogans and loudly thanked the police for protecting them.
While each of these far-right groups is small -- many brought in members from out of town to bolster their numbers—it is intensely disturbing to see fascists allowed to openly march in downtown Toronto. At the March 4 event, anti-fascists outnumbered the fascists by a large margin; this time, while we initially outnumbered them, the numbers were even by the end. In other cities, including Winnipeg, St. Catharines, and Montreal, small groups of fascists were easily thwarted. It’s clear that stronger activist networks, coordinated mobilization, and solidarity between racialized people and their allies are needed to combat this growing threat.
- Written by Sabitha Furiosa, reprinted with permission
- Reports from Vancouver:
- Ashley: I arrived at City Hall just before 12:00 pm to see 20 people or so gathered at the Cambie side of the building waving Canadian flags, with megaphones, leaflets, posters and signs in opposition to M-103 and "Sharia Law."
I held up my sign (I <3 Muslim Canadians, YES to M-103) and was immediately spotted.
Two men from the group approached, saying to each other loud enough for me to hear, "Does that mean we start spitting? Wonder how she'd like it if we started spitting. Her side had no problem spitting on us at (unintelligible) threw punches like they do."
- Their hostility was evident in their body language and the fact that they kept moving closer. Members of their own group called them back.
Shortly thereafter a few came to engage, ask questions, discuss the motion. The group seemed misinformed about Islam (e.g. frequently saying that Islam is a terror movement or terrorist organization, they discussed grotesque acts done to women in Muslim countries, and made frequent references to "my sister," "my wife," "my daughter").
One broke through, came in close, raised the pole of his flag and shook it at me, and said "I don't think you should be here. It's not a good idea for you to be here." I stayed put. "You should go across the street. I don't know what will happen to you if you stay here. With the people that are coming, I can't make any promises, you should go across the street for your own good."
- One of his one of his own people called him back and the other men continued engaging me. I began messaging group updates. The men who had been engaging in dialogue resumed and more Soldiers of Odin men did arrive. One unidentified comrade came and stood by me when they were getting in my face. I don't know who he is but he witnessed some of their words and stayed with me until Imran and Fatima showed up shortly thereafter.
We held our ground until 1:30 pm, when we received word that Amira had arrived but had been spotted and followed into a bathroom. I escorted her to the sky train, where I rejoined Imran and Fatima .
We attended a separate rally at Jack Poole plaza.
Imran : I arrived just after 12:30 to see Ashley almost surrounded by men talking at her. I came up and directly engaged with her for a few minutes to give her a break from them. They quickly turned their questions to me in relation to my sign, one side which read BIGOTS NOT WELCOME: Take Yer Cheetos + Eff Off and the other reading I <3 Muslims.
- They asked baited questions like "why do you think we are bigots?" and tried to explain their analysis but their contradictions were quickly pointed out. It was a lot of misinformed Islamophobic rhetoric about how "Muslims stone gays" and "we, as women, wouldn’t have freedom of speech in the Middle East." They called Muslims terrorists and referenced Black and Muslim relations to back up their opinions.
- They did not suggest violence to me, like they did with Ashley and the spitting, but made many attempts to dehumanize me through body and sex shaming and belittling my presence. Fatima showed up at some point and they spoke to her in a similar fashion. By then there must have been approximately 30 people, still mostly white men.
- I saw two white ladies, two men of colour, one woman of colour, and one man who identified as native. One fellow showed up with a male pitbull. He seemed inebriated, occasionally yelling obscenities peppered with Islamophobic comments at the top of his lungs, and the dog spent most of the time behind his owners legs with his ears pinned back. This fellow would later loudly express that he wanted to join Soldiers of Odin and another man took his number.
- Some fellows tried to engage me directly but I wasn’t interested in talking to them and responded just enough to mock them. I dubbed one guy Captain Hair Gel for example and responded to someone else that I got stoned every day when they said I’d be stoned for being gay or a woman.
- I was expecting to see Amira, but she was marked as soon as she arrived by a man who has priors and has been stalking and harassing her already. She hid till Ashley found her and got her out to safety. There were Soldiers of Odin scouts in the mall as well. A bunch of folks honked and waved at me directly but the anti-M103 crowd would constantly try to get in front of me with their signs. The folks who were really enthusiastic about supporting the other people were usually in large vehicles and also usually a white male or multiple white men. I didn’t think it was synchronized but still thought it was odd.
- I trolled them well enough that I guess they got annoyed and wouldn’t talk to me anymore, which was pretty hilarious. They did move aside to let people through and some folks looked uncomfortable as they walked by. The anti-M103 group started moving up the street and we followed them but they were definitely leaving by then. Ashley joined us again soon after and we decided to attend a separate rally at Jack Poole plaza to make sure that Soldiers of Odin supporters did not disrupt us.
Fatima: I was having a lazy Sunday in bed when Ashley let us know, without asking us to join her, where she was and that the men were being aggressive towards her but that she was holding her ground. I, of course, wasn’t going to let her deal with this alone, so I got dressed as fast as I could and made the 45-minute drive to come and help her hold her ground.
- On my way, I stopped and grabbed some Timbits to share with my friends. I parked south-east of City Hall and made a point of walking through the small groups on the south upper part of city hall, I had my cellphone in my hand and took some video for safety precautions as I walked over to the west side to join my friends. I didn’t have a sign, so no one paid me much attention until Imran spotted me and I joined the group.
- As the other women have mentioned, they had a lot of ill-informed rhetoric they just kept spewing. I commented on the irony that they believe I would not be safe in the Middle East, but yet they made threats to my friend and were making us feel unsafe right here in Canada. I attempted to combat their ignorant comments with the real facts and the one guy who kept flip flopping on whether he was white or Indigenous (he said native) at least did mention that if anything I was educated on these topics and that my friends weren’t (they are, but Imran was trolling and Ashley, for the most part, tried not to escalate or engage much).
- Some of the ignorant statements made were:
- The Quran encourages child marriage (I reminded them that so did the Holy Bible)
- Women are forced to wear burkas in the Middle East (Spoiler alert if you ever travel there: they aren’t)
- I would be stoned for dressing how I was dressed if I was in the Middle East. (I was wearing a full body jumper and a jean jacket! This would have been just fine everywhere except maybe Saudi Arabia.)
- Muslim men are rapists (I reminded them that most sex-based crimes in North America are committed by white men).
- Well, what about Black on Black violence? (They weren’t winning so they had to attack my race apparently. I educated them on proximity violence and how statistics show these numbers are pretty much the same amongst all races.)
One of the men repeatedly kept asking me out on a date, sexualizing me and making me uncomfortable. Another man with a scary looking dog was either very drunk or dealing with some mental health issues (and if it is the latter then I apologize for the assumption that he was intoxicated). There was also one white woman who was trying to make the same ignorant comments I had already dealt with and at this point, I was so over this argument.
- I spent some time trying to wave one of our pro-Muslim signs on the street to counteract the other people with their anti-Muslim signs. At one point Ashley disappeared to go get Amira. However, a member of Soldiers of Odin recognized Amira. She made the decision to leave the area due to surveillance and lack of organized counter demonstration. During this period one of the anti-Muslim protesters stole our Timbits, which, to be honest, I don’t know how Imran forgot to mention this as she was the most upset about this.
- Overall, the encounter left me drained and disappointed in my fellow humans and I was happy to get away from having multiple people yelling incoherent and blatantly uneducated comments at me. Once they dispersed, we went off to find a little light and love at the pro-Muslim rally at Jack Poole Plaza.