WATCH ABOVE: A controversial right-wing group from Germany called PEGIDA has plans to bring its anti-Islamisation message to Montreal. Rachel Lau reports.
MONTREAL – It’s a controversial right-wing group that first surfaced in Dresden, Germany in 2014. Now, PEGIDA, or Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West, is coming to Montreal.
“I don’t think that there are any facts that demonstrate that there is a threat of the horrors of Muslims coming to destroy the country of Canada or civilization,” said Stephen Brown with the Canadian Muslim Forum.
PEGIDA has already created a lot of controversy with its message – to protect the democratic rights of the west and oppose Islamic Sharia law.
Many in Montreal’s Muslim community insist the group isn’t welcome.
“If people are afraid that an increase in Muslim immigrants means that we’re going to start cutting people’s hands off or stealing packets of gum at Pharmaprix this is ridiculous,” said Brown.
Most have had enough of the increasing Islamophobia in recent months.
“You have more chances of being killed by a moose in Canada than you do by a terrorist,” said Brown.
“Do we need a German far-right group to come and save us from the moose?”
Canada’s Security Intelligence Service and local authorities are already watching the organization.
“Anybody is entitled to their own opinion,” said Claude Sarrazin of Sico Security. “The only thing is if that opinion becomes violent or encouraging to violence, then it becomes an issue.”
PEGIDA is already making waves on Facebook by planning a protest in Montreal. Representatives did not respond to Global News’ request for comment.
Protesters are planning to meet in St-Leonard on March 28.
The borough and the Montreal police refused to comment, but say they’re aware of the controversial group and are working together in the weeks to come.
At least 76 people have confirmed they’ll be at the demonstration, but Federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney points out there are laws against spreading hate speech.
“We are in a country that has freedom of expression,” he told Global News.
“But in the criminal code, we have specific restrictions regarding hatred and violence so we expect that any organization will abide by the Canadian law.”
For now, members of the Muslim community are just hoping to start an open dialogue.
“We really need to start having an honest, frank conversation about what’s happening here with regards to Islam, Muslims, Islamism, Sharia,” said Brown.