On Friday, members of an anti-Islamic group known as the Canadian Infidels made their way to Canada’s oldest mosque to make their presence known.
Members of the anti-Islam groups the Clann and the Canadian Infidels staked out the Al-Rashid mosque as members streamed in for their Friday prayers. In total, there were five people at the mosque affiliated with the far-right groups. The group, for the most part, sat outside and questioned people making their way to Friday prayers. However, at one point they made their way into the mosque.
Al-Rashid, in a Facebook post, outlined what happened and said they are “are working with the local authorities to monitor the situation.”
“Two suspicious men entered the Mosque today before Friday Prayer in what seemed like an attempt to scout the property and provoke our community,” reads the mosque’s post. “One of which was wearing a toque with the word ‘infidel’ on it in Arabic. They later met up with two other guys and got into a confrontation outside the Mosque. The police were contacted immediately, and are investigating the situation.”
The two men were confronted inside the mosque by someone who asked what they were doing and promptly left. Outside the mosque, the group of “infidels” got into a heated discussion with two Muslim men, which was partly captured on video. One of the Muslim men asked the far-right affiliated people to recite one verse from the Quran, which the men could not do. The men instead assumed the man who came outside to discuss Islam with them wasn’t a Canadian.
“We’re freedom fighters, we believe in freedom of speech so we may not agree with what you believe in or what you have to say but we appreciate the fact that you come to our country Canada and have those rights,” said the Infidel-affiliated man in a video posted to Facebook.
“Come to Canada?” the Muslim man responds. “I was born at York Finch General Hospital, in Toronto, Ontario Canada. My father’s from Newfoundland and my mother’s from Jamaica, she’s like a prettier version of Oprah Winfrey.”
The conversation carried on much in the same way. The man speaking to the “infidels” told City TV that prior to them filming the far-right group was being far more offensive and aggressive. It was only when they started recording that the men started “trying to be well behaved in front of the camera.”
Before this though, Tyson Hunt, one of the leaders of the group, decided to live stream himself going into the mosque. In a bizarre video, Hunt streams himself entering the mosque and announcing he needs to piss and will use the mosque’s washroom. When he gets in the building he interacts with someone inside and then points at the washroom and again announces he’s going to the bathroom. The photos released by Al-Rashid show Hunt not live streaming, suggesting he continued wandering around the mosque after the livestream.
Evan Balgord, the executive director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, told VICE that their actions were tantamount to intimidation.
“An anti-Muslim group that calls itself The Clann, wearing clothing that says infidel and scoping out a mosque is a threat and a provocation and I would hope they are being closely monitored by police,” Balgord told VICE.
Police have confirmed to the CBC that they’re looking into the event and that the “Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit was consulted in the investigation. Hate Crimes unit is aware of this group and is monitoring their activities."
The people staked outside the mosque seemed to be an amalgamation of two groups—the Infidels and the Clann. It has been previously reported it was the Wolves of Odin—and several members, as recently as a few weeks ago, were affiliated—but this far-right world is incredibly incestuous with rampant infighting so it’s not rare members to be in one group one week and another the next.
The Canadian Infidels were born out of the death of the Edmonton chapter of the Soldiers of Odin, a far-right street patrol/vigilante group which was founded by a self-avowed white supremacist in Finland. While the newly-formed group claims to not be anti-Islam in interviews with media, their actions both on and offline suggest otherwise. The group denies holding any anti-Islamic or racist views, but has dubbed itself the infidels, wears branded clothing with the Arabic word “kafir” which translates to unbeliever or infidel. The group became the Infidels after several stunts—like publicly attending a United Conservative Party pub night—that gained the group media attention. Hunt explained the group to VICE previously as being similar to the Soldiers of Odin (you can read more on the group below).
Meanwhile, the Clann appears to be a group of one—a small-time player in Alberta’s anti-Islam scene for some time. The man who courts controversy and media attention has been described as a “glorious dumpster fire” by the blogger at Anti-Racist Canada. For a few years now, he’s been creating support groups for bigger clubs and has repeatedly attempted to get his own off the ground but to no avail. After several failed attempts—the most recent seemingly dubbed Odin’s Heathen—he is now involved with a group called the Clann (subtle) in which he’s dubbed himself the “Sergeant At Arms”—he’s written online his group has “merged” with the Canadian Infidels. In the past, he has been a key part of Albertan anti-Islam protests.
It’s no surprise the men were live streaming their actions. Live streaming confrontations has, in the past, proven to get an audience among the right wing both in Canada and abroad. Last year a group of far-right activists live streamed their visit to a hotel that was housing refugees—an arson was attempted at the hotel afterwards—and in March of last year, anti-Islam provocateur Sandra Solomon was investigated for hate crimes after live streaming herself entering a mosque and then tearing up a Quran.
“Many organizers in the far-right movements use live-streaming to broadcast events, talk trash about other far-right organizers, give their conspiratorial interpretations on the news of the day, and so on,” Balgord told VICE. “The far-right has its own social media ecosystem where they get their 'news' because they don't believe mainstream media outlets.”
The intrusion into the mosque by the group was condemned universally in the political sphere by both right and left-leaning politicians. United Conservative Party Leader Jason Kenny tweeted out that their actions were “odious and have no place in our Alberta. All Albertans must be able to practice their faith in peace without threat or intimidation.” This is the second time that Kenney has had to denounce the group, as they were pictured meeting with a United Conservative candidate at a pub last year.
Meanwhile, the Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said that “Hearing that a hate group is openly harassing & terrorizing people in #yeg with racist and homophobic attacks and posters is beyond upsetting.”
“This is not who we are. There is no room for this kind of hate in the strong, open and optimistic Alberta that inspires me and is our home.”
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