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Montreal is a diverse and cosmopolitan city, primarily French speaking but with an exotic mix of many of the world’s languages and cultures enlivening the atmosphere. There’s a bit of New York here, a soupçon of Paris, the flavor of pre-Katrina New Orleans, perhaps a touch of London before it became Londonistan. A big city with a congenial small-town feel, it is a nice place to live. Or at least, it was a nice place to live until, as in many other Western cities, Islam began making its muscular presence felt—less so, clearly, than in Hamburg or Malmo or Amsterdam, but the census is not encouraging,
For Montreal—like Canada in general—has not been immune to the demographic invasion of immigrants from Muslim countries. Many of these newcomers have integrated peacefully into mainstream culture; nevertheless a significant radical presence has concentrated in the city. Journalist Fabrice de Pierrebourg’s 2007 book Montréalistan profiles a veritable Who’s Who of terrorist plotters who have settled here. “All the ingredients of radical Islamism are present in Montreal,” he says. (One can listen to an informative French interview with the author on the Jeremaykovka blog site.)
We remember that Ahmed Ressam, who attempted to bomb LAX, was a Montrealer, as is his handler Fateh Kamel, who played a “central role in the wave of terrorist acts” in1990s France. Pierrebourg points out that Montreal as a French language city naturally attracts Francophone immigrants from North Africa, chiefly Algeria and Morocco. This influx has changed the gradients of everyday discourse, influenced the media and impacted the electoral calculations of our political Parties—such as the Liberal Party, the New Democratic Party and the Bloc Québécois on the federal level, and the left-wing, sovereignist Parti Québécois and Québec solidaire in the provincial theater.
Sympathy for terrorist and recidivist groups like Hezbollah, Hamas and Fatah has been steadily on the rise, coupled with the inevitable vilification of and mounting pressure against Israel. During the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006, there were public demonstrations in the streets of Montreal in support of Hezbollah, attended by some of our most visible political figures marching in solidarity beneath the Hezbollah flag.
Although a majority of Montrealers no doubt deplore such egregious displays of prejudice and hatred, pro-Islamic and anti-Israeli sentiment is now par for the course among many in the political and intellectual classes in Quebec. When popular French TV Radio-Canada anchor Simon Durivage drew an obscene equivalence between Israel and Sudan, effectively denouncing Israel as a rogue state, he was giving representative voice to the malign spirit of anti-Israeli incitement that is becoming ever more prominent.
The most recent episode involves the leader of Québec solidaire, Iranian-born Amir Khadir, who decided to exercise his obligations as a National Assembly parliamentarian by picketing a local shoe store for the unconscionable transgression of selling shoes made in Israel. The proprietor of the shop, a certain Yves Archambault (who is not Jewish), stood his ground, saying: “I was sickened to see him distributing flyers and stopping people who were coming into the store to tell them they shouldn’t support a business that sells Israeli products.”
How such destructive meddling in the livelihoods of ordinary citizens squares with Khadir’s responsibilities as a public deputy is beyond comprehension. But he gets away with dereliction of duty. It is profoundly distressing to learn that a recent poll showed Khadir to be the most popular politican in Quebec, a fact which probably renders him untouchable. Nonetheless, as Christine Williams rightly advises, “This man should be stripped of his office” since he “does not adhere to the principles of his country’s democracy to which he owes allegiance.”
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