Protest at Montreal Mosque Attracts Both Sides

TVA Apologizes for Spreading Misinformation

Police officers guarding the entrance of a mosque on Avenue de Courtrai, Côte-des-Neiges. Protesters gathered in reaction to a since-debunked TVA report claiming the mosque had banned women construction workers from the area to make way for Friday prayers. Photo Elisa Barbier
Protesters who came out in support of La Meute’s initial call-out said they were not part of La Meute themselves. Photo Elisa Barbier
Anti-fascist demonstrators were present Friday morning to face the ones who answered to La Meute’s initial call. Photo Elisa Barbier

Despite La Meute’s demonstration against the Ahl-Ill Bait Mosque being cancelled, a small number of protesters came to the Côte-des-Neiges mosque this Friday in support of what they call “women’s rights.”

President of the anti-Islam group Sylvain Brouillette made the call out for the demonstration Tuesday night on their public Facebook page, in reaction to a since-debunked TVA report claiming the mosque had banned women construction workers from the area to make way for Friday prayers.

At the time, he wrote the protest was of utmost importance for them since “La Meute was founded for the protection of our women from religious fundamentalism.”

A report investigating the matter by the Quebec Construction Commission spoke with witnesses from the construction company involved, the two mosques on the street mentioned in TVA’s report, and with the women allegedly targeted. It found no evidence to back the claims made in the TVA report.

TVA has since retracted the article. On Friday morning, TVA published an apology, saying “TVA Nouvelles regrets the situation we created and wants to apologize to the parties involved and the viewers who have been affected by this news.”

The channel also says they’ll now be doing an internal investigation so they can review the journalistic process that was used to put the story together.

Action Antifasciste Montréal launched a callout for a counter-demonstration in solidarity with the mosque, and a small group of anti-fascist demonstrators arrived in response. Police kept both sides apart, and throughout the afternoon each side yelled attacks at each other.

Those in support of La Meute’s initial call-out slightly outnumbered the other side, who only had about 10 or 15 in attendance. Most of those who came out in support of the initial call-out by La Meute told reporters they were not part of La Meute themselves.

David Deladurantaye decided to come out to support the Muslim community. “We will not let white supremacist groups come here to destroy their communities,” he said.

He thinks La Meute most likely cancelled out of fear. “There’s so many anti-fascist groups here in Montreal, they can’t take the streets, they’re scared they’ll be outnumbered.”

And while La Meute claims to be a tolerant group, Deladurantaye said, people should remember that not so long ago the group attempted to hold an anti-refugee demonstration at the Olympic Stadium in August when it was temporary being used to house new arrivals.

Lionel Perez and David Heurtel came by the mosque in solidarity of Montreal’s Muslim community. Photo Elisa Barbier

City councillor for the Darlington district and municipal opposition leader Lionel Perez, as well as Immigration and Diversity Minister David Heurtel, also came out in solidarity with the mosque.

“We know how quickly with social media things become rampant,” Perez said to reporters. “Things get corrected, and yet the original headline is still believed.”

“We were able to get the facts, and now it’s about dialogue,” Heurtel said. “It’s about moving ahead. This is what Quebec is about, it’s about these values of tolerance, of inclusion, and saying very firmly that we are collectively against any form of intolerance and any form of hatred.”