Last Sunday night, six people from the Muslim community in Quebec city were assassinated at their mosque. This shows that racist extreme-right ideology is very much alive in supposedly egalitarian and tolerant Quebec society, which currently participates in fostering an islamophobic climate in which racists are increasingly feeling emboldened to act. This time it’s not an act that can be ignored, unlike the pigs heads left on the steps of the same mosque several months ago and which interested practically nobody, or the daily verbal and physical aggressions in the street of racialized people.
On the day of the funeral for those killed in the shooting, a mosque in the Montreal neighbourhood of Pointe-St-Charles had it’s windows broken. In response, a solidarity rally drew a hundred supporters in front of the mosque, anarchist graffiti expressing solidarity went up on advertisement paneling across the street, and anti-fascist posters were taped on the broken windows titled “Against racism, islamophobia and anti-semitism. Let’s be on the offensive”.
Many are asking themselves how is it possible that this could happen here. However, racism and hatred for the ‘other’ outside of Christianity is not something new in Canada. This country is founded on the genocide of indigenous people, and their ghettoization into reservations. Contrary to what we learn in school, the colonizers of so-called Quebec also participated in this mass genocide. Quebec society has its share of racism through the ages, whether it be with the new form of slavery of the mass incarceration of black and indigenous people, the residential schools, the exploitation of migrant works without papers, or the islamophobic Charter of Values. Of course, the rise in right-wing nationalist ideology in the last years has had a large impact on the murders that happened in Quebec, but we can’t forgot that this way of thinking existed even before someone like Trump took power in the US, or a politician like Marine Le Pen is polled to win 30% of the vote in the coming elections in France.
It’s not surprising that the xenophobic act that took place last Sunday happened in the capital of Quebec. Several racist groups have been diffusing their despicable ideology in broad-daylight for several years, with impunity. Groups like Atalante Québec or Soldats d’Odins (Soldiers of Odin) and several others can try to hide behind their false banner of “only denouncing radical Islam”, but we’re not falling for this manipulation. We know very well that these are people who act according to a racist logic. How can a group like Atalante say that it’s not racist while they organize a conference with neo-fascist Italian groups like Casapound who claim the legacy of Mussolini. Quebec City also has its share of “radio poubelles” (a term used for right-wing populist radio stations) listened to each day by thousands. The hosts of these shows can always wash their hands by saying that they don’t call for murder, but they contribute in a large way to the normalization of racism and islamophobia. Let’s be clear: these people also have blood on their hands and their discourses of hate must absolutely be confronted with all means necessary. Whether it be the pieing of people like Mathieu Bock-Côté, disrupting all their conferences, or by never allowing a racist demonstration to take the streets in peace.
The response to the extreme right must be determined and relentless, this people must be afraid to publicly poster their discourses of hate. We must not wait for any change coming from the political class that also contributes to the atmosphere of racism: through the normalization of hate towards muslims, the maintenance of inherently racist borders and policing , and the ongoing colonial violence that Canada is founded on. The struggle against the rise of fascism and the world that needs it will only come from ourselves and without the intermediary of any representatives – to fight organized fascists out of the streets at every opportunity and to attack everything that gives them legitimacy. We must make our anti-fascism radical by continuing to fight against the racist foundations of our society – colonial government and industrial civilization, nationalism, police, prisons, and borders.