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Ottawa shuts down far-right ‘ACT! for Canada’

By: 
Chantal Sundaram

November 26, 2017

On November 25 anti-racist, anti-fascist, community and labour activists gathered in front of the Ottawa Public Library to protest the world premiere screening of Islamophobic documentary, “Killing Europe,” by Danish-born film-maker Michael Hansen, dedicated to spreading anti-Muslim hate. The event was organized by “ACT! for Canada,” a group that exists to provide a cover to those who promote even more active hate in the streets.

But due to pressure on Ottawa City Council, the screening was cancelled the day before. The Ottawa Public Library informed “Act! Ottawa” that they were withdrawing from the agreement to rent them space as it was deemed to be in breach of community standards. This is a victory for all those who pressured city councilors and the Ottawa mayor in the week before.

Bigots

In their statement about the cancellation, “Ottawa Public Library Caves to Pressure from the Left” ACT! hid behind a disgusting veneer of concern for women and the LGBTQ community. They claimed it represented a shut-down of the victims of rape culture, anti-Semitism, and homophobia.

The reality is that these oppressive structures are part of the white European culture the film seeks to defend, not products of Islam as it seeks to blame.

But the fact that they have to defend the targeting of Muslims with progressive rhetoric is a sign of weakness, not strength. And the fact that fewer people are buying it is a sign of strength for those who oppose them.

Protest

Despite the cancellation of the screening, the protest went ahead. Organized by Ottawa Against Fascism and Solidarity Ottawa, and drawing on the Council of Canadians, it brought together a community that will be prepared to resist, and drew media including CBC.

A member of the Muslim community in Ottawa spoke about the efforts to inform that community about this event, and thanked non-Muslim protesters for making it an issue.

Ottawa Labour Council President Sean McKenney spoke about the role of unions. Having just come back from the Ontario Federation of Labour Convention, he talked about the role of Labour Councils in Hamilton, Toronto and London in resisting the far-right, and the difference that can make in shutting down those who try to spread hate.

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