Bloor West Village community members marched to welcome refugees and say no to hate on Saturday June 25, following a small march by PEGIDA supporters the previous Saturday. Originating in Germany, PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the West) is a racist hate group that calls for expulsion of Muslims and violence against refugees and migrants. This is the latest of several small rallies PEGIDA has held in different parts of Toronto in the past year, and across the country.
On very short notice, 70 community members, including church groups, groups sponsoring refugees, activists and local business owners on Bloor rallied and marched with banners and signs saying "refugees welcome" and chanting "immigrants in, racists out." The reception on the street was positive.
PEGIDA masquerades as a patriotic group that promotes "Canadian" values. But their explicit anti-Muslim vitriol and violent targeting of refugees and immigrants marks them as a hate group.
Islamophobia and Canada
Canada is not immune to the hate and Islamophobia promoted by PEGIDA or the likes of Donald Trump. Islamophobia has been stoked in Canada by successive governments. Harper called "Islamism” the most serious security threat, condoned the use of security certificates that targeted Muslims, and during the last election the Tories proposed the "barbaric cultural practices" snitch line.
Harper’s government also passed the draconian Bill C-51 that allowed for arrest and detention based on suspicion of future "terrorist" acts. Trudeau’s Liberals voted for C-51 but, promised to amend it. This has not been done. To date, several people have been subject to the "preemptive" arrest that this law allows.
The Brexit leave vote campaign in the UK was co-opted in part by this same anti-immigrant, anti-Muslims rhetoric. It is only a minority of people, but this polarizing period of protracted economic crisis, austerity and war, gives space to a right wing expression of hate. The key is to meet it quickly with resistance. Bloor West village community members showed the way.
Join the discussion "Brexit: what happened? what next for the left," Monday July 4, 7pm at Steelworkers Hall, Toronto