controversial successful European movement, plans to ‘send a message’ in a rally that has been denounced in the House of Commons and the Quebec legislature. (The Star)
MONTREAL—Islam needs to change or it needs to leave.
That’s the message from one of the leaders who has brought to Canada a controversial European movement that unites political conservatives, anti-immigration activists and neo-Nazis with the goal of beating back a perceived rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism.
Jean-François Asgard is one of five people to have launched PEGIDA Québec earlier this year, the latest branch of a global anti-Islam movement that was created last fall in the German town of Dresden.
PEGIDA (the name is a German acronym for Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West) was founded by a convicted burglar-turned-graphic designer who planned a protest against the opening of 14 refugee centres in his city. It has risen rapidly, gathering more than 20,000 people at its peak and provoking warnings and denunciations from German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
That has done little to stop its global growth and there are now branches across Europe, in Australia, Britain and the United States. There is also a national PEGIDA Canada group as well as a branch in British Columbia.
“The incompatibility of Islam with the west is flagrant and that’s the reason that PEGIDA and the Western patriots are rising up. It’s not just to counter Islam but to say that if Islam doesn’t reform itself, Islam needs to get out of the west,” Asgard, 33, told the Star in the group’s first interview ahead of a controversial march planned for this weekend.
Though the group is still in its infancy it has already been denounced on the floor of the House of Commons in Ottawa and condemned by members of Quebec’s national assembly for promoting hatred and fear at an already sensitive time for Quebec’s Muslims.
“Its actions are directly targeting the Muslim community. Among its supporters, we find Christian fundamentalists and adherents of the (National Front of Canada), a movement that is clearly against immigration and ferociously anti-Islam,” wrote Québec Solidaire co-leader Françoise David in an letter published in Montreal’s Le Devoir.