Two groups of protesters faced off outside Montreal City Hall Saturday.
On one side, far right groups opposed to a government motion condemning Islamophobia.
On the other side, hundreds of opponents, equipped with anti-racism signs.
Montreal police in riot gear tried to keep the two groups apart, creating a barrier in between them and their views.
But still, tensions between the groups quickly flared, resulting in a few scuffles, but no reported injuries.
Protesters from far right groups said they’re against M-103, a motion currently before the house of commons, asking the government to condemn Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.
These protesters argued the motion doesn’t define what Islamophobia means – therefore condemning it could suppress debates like sharia law.
“We want free speech, as is our right in the Charter of Freedoms,” said Norman Wintermute, from Pegida Quebec. “We have the right to opinion.”
Protesters said they stand for pro-Quebec values and claimed the protest, was to assert their right for free speech.
“We need to take less Muslims into our country,” Wintermute said. “We see this all over the place. It’s worse for Muslims, it’s worse for us.”
But anti-fascist activist, Jaggi Singh, from Solidarity Across Borders, said those views shouldn’t be acceptable.
“They’re basically an Islamophobic, anti-immigrant, racist organization hiding behind free speech and there should be really no place for those kinds of groups in our society,” Singh said.
And so community members mobilized to confront the far right groups.
Montreal resident, Naheed Ali brought her young daughter to the protest, she said she wants to teach her what she calls fundamental values.
“There should be no division, there shouldn’t be any lines drawn between people by way of race, colour or ethnicity, or religious beliefs,” said Ali. “I want my daughter to see that there are people who stand up for humanity and what is right.”
Montreal Police said there were no arrests.