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Extremism is not far from home

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It has barely been two months since the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand rocked the international community, and we now have local extremist groups who are using Quebec’s new secularism legislation, Bill 21, as an opportunity to further their message of intolerance. Extremism is not too far from home after all.

Storm Alliance, a far-right group, appeared to be part of a rally of hundreds outside the offices of TVA in Montreal earlier this month. The group has held numerous such rallies before, including one on Parliament Hill only a month after the first-anniversary commemoration last year of the Quebec City mosque shooting. The rallies are reminders of similar mass movements seen on the streets of Yangon, in Myanmar, before the 2017 massacre of Rohingya in the country: they all expressed messages of hate and xenophobia towards Muslim minorities.

Interestingly, the movements also allegedly expressed support for certain government policies in their respective countries: the Ma Ba Tha purportedly supported the Tatmadaw in Myanmar, and the Storm Alliance allegedly supports Bill 21 as well as its comparable predecessor, the values charter put forward by a former Quebec government.

It is sometimes incomprehensible that in a pluralistic, multi-ethnic society that we have in Canada, there could be an upsurge of intolerance in a province known for its history of people from diverse faith backgrounds, working and living together in ethnic-religious harmonies. But time and time again, we fall into political climates of fear and extremism that contribute to nothing but a breakdown of these harmonies. And as Canadians, it is disturbing to see it unfold, right at our doorsteps, within months of the Christchurch shootings.

Raiss Tinmaung

Montreal, Que.

Yasmin Ullah

Vancouver, B.C.

Rohingya Human Rights Network

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