In Canada, Where Muslims Are Few, Group Stirs Fear of Islamists – The New York Times
2017/04/08 Leave a comment
More on the extreme right in Canada, making the New York Times (see earlier Inside Quebec’s far right: Take a tour of La Meute, the secretive group with 43,000 members):
Some experts warn that groups like La Meute, however much they eschew violence, create an enabling environment in which hate can grow. “They are embedded in a broader cultural ethos that bestows ‘permission to hate,’” said Barbara Perry, a professor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology who has written extensively on right-wing extremism in Canada.
The conversation within La Meute’s private Facebook page can border on hateful. In response to one person’s request about what could be done to prevent construction of a mosque in the neighborhood, another follower suggested pouring pig’s blood on the ground and letting Muslims know the land had been desecrated.
While primarily confined to French-speaking Canada, La Meute lies on a continuum of conservative thought that is propelling politicians like Kellie Leitch, a member of Parliament who is vying for leadership of Canada’s Conservative Party. Ms. Leitch once proposed a tip line for people to report “barbaric cultural practices,” and has suggested that immigrants be screened for “Canadian values” so that the country can maintain “a unified Canadian identity.”
Mr. Beaudry, the son of a onetime lumberjack and heavy equipment operator, joined the Canadian Army when he was 17 and spent years in Germany. He retired from the army after a car accident in 2002 and subsequently spent several months working as a private contractor in Afghanistan. He was greatly influenced by the specter of Taliban rule.
He said he and his friends were motivated by the 2014 killing of two soldiers in Canada in separate episodes, both at the hands of Canadian extremists who had converted to Islam. “We realized something was happening,” Mr. Beaudry said, adding that terrorist attacks in France and Belgium followed soon after.
He said that the primary goal in founding La Meute was to educate members and others about the growth of political Islam in Canada.
Mr. Beaudry spoke specifically about the group’s opposition to the niqab and the burqa, Islamic styles of dress that cover women’s faces. Only a tiny sliver of the Canadian population adopts them, but “if people cannot blend with the society,” Mr. Beaudry said, “it becomes a cancer and if you want to save your life, you have to take action.”
He also believes a parliamentary motion passed last month that condemns Islamophobia is a move to silence criticism of political Islam and is the first step toward an Islamic anti-blasphemy law.
On the private Facebook page, La Meute’s leaders quiz followers, screening for the most informed and dedicated who might fill positions in the hierarchy.
Mr. Beaudry said La Meute was assigning followers to 17 geographic “clans,” each with officers and staff, “so people know who to report to and where to go when things happen.” He said five clans were “fully operational,” and he expected all to be formed by the end of the year.
The group has transportation cells that take people to meetings and has medical units to care for the injured. Some members recently started an online radio station. Last month, La Meute fielded about 400 people in four cities to protest the anti-Islamophobia motion.
“We are trying to teach people that they have much more political power, they matter much more than the majority believes,” Mr. Beaudry said. “We want to influence our world, our politics.”