Secularism: Jewish organizations dissociate from Sunday demonstration

Organizations of the Jewish community are calling on opponents of the draft law on secularism not to demonstrate with Adil Charkaoui and his group, which they call “radical religious fundamentalists” to “incendiary rhetoric”.

Several thousand people marched in Montreal on Sunday against Bill 21 and the banning of religious symbols for some public servants. The event was organized by the preacher Adil Charkaoui, president of the Collectif Quebecois contre l’islamophobie.

Several thousand people marched in Montreal on Sunday against Bill 21 and the banning of religious symbols for some public servants.

The Advisory Center for Jewish and Israeli Relations (CIJA), which is the voice of the “institutional” Jewish community in Montreal, militates against the Caquist bill. Its members, including several groups from the Jewish community, had seen the call to protest, but they had decided to stay as far as possible.

“There was no question of associating in any way with Adil Charkaoui,” says David Ouellette, Director of Public Affairs at CIJA.

“We spread the word in our community, and people were very receptive to the fact that it’s not a good idea to partner with them. ”

– David Ouellette

“I believe that it is essential, when discussing a subject as sensitive as secularism, religious freedom or conscience, that we can lead this debate in a civil, respectful way. We must recognize that there are legitimate positions on both sides of the debate. And in a democratic society like ours, there is no room for incendiary rhetoric, “he says.

Defense of an antisemitic imam

Mr. Ouellette is ironic that some people described the event as an opportunity to “march against anti-Semitism”. He pointed out that in 2017, the Collectif Quebecois contre l’islamophobie defended an imam who called to kill Jews “one by one” during a sermon in a mosque in Montreal.

The Collective had stated on its website that this appeal was to be put in the context of “the Israeli aggression against Gaza” and he argued that the investigation opened by the Montreal police for suspicion of hate crime was only the fruit pressures from the Zionist lobby.

“They justified it by saying that the remarks were made in the context of the armed conflict between Israel and Hamas. What this imam said did not concern Israeli soldiers. He had called for the death of all Jews. And the Collective justified these calls to death by saying that there was a context, “says Ouellette.

“Then I’m sorry, but a collective defending a call for the death of the Jews can not call to march against anti-Semitism. ”

In 2013, while Adil Charkaoui and his group were protesting against the draft charter of the Parti Quebecois, CIJA had already refused to join the group. “We issued a statement saying that there was no question that we were joining a demonstration organized by radical religious fundamentalists,” recalls Mr. Ouellette.

Disciples gone to Syria

Considered a sleeping agent of the Al-Qaeda network by the Canadian government, Adil Charkaoui was detained in the early 2000s under a security certificate. When the courts ruled that some of the top-secret evidence needed to be passed on for him to defend himself, the authorities preferred to withdraw the evidence, which triggered his release. He has sued Canada for 26 million since, but the government has announced its intention to defend itself.

In 2015, survey counted eight young people who were following Mr. Charkaoui’s teachings and who had left Canada to join jihadists in Syria or tried to do so. Jad Zibara, the father of a teenage girl arrested while trying to leave the country, blamed Mr. Charkaoui in an interview

“My daughter is a victim of Adil Charkaoui. He puts hate in the hearts of young people, “he lamented.

Another of Charkaoui’s followers, El Mahdi Jamali, was arrested in 2015 for planning a bomb attack in Canada, but was acquitted of the main charge and convicted of a mere possession of unauthorized explosives.

At the young man’s trial, an analyst at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police said that Mr. Charkaoui’s center is “a common denominator on many issues” related to Canada’s national security.