The fabricated incident has driven some Chinese-Canadians to make common cause with alt-right stalwarts.
On February 18, hundreds of demonstrators packed into tour buses in Toronto and were shuttled to a “Rally Against Hijab Hoax” demonstration held at Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The demonstration included the Northern Guard, Proud Boys, the Canadian Combat Coalition, a large number of members from the Quebec groups La Meute and Storm Alliance, and a group new to the scene—the Chinese-Canadian Alliance.
In January, an 11-year old girl said an Asian man cut her hijab with scissors on her way to school in Scarborough. Media and politicians were quick to jump on the incident, which the police later determined to be fabricated.
In the following weeks, a Chinese-Canadian group held demonstrations in Toronto, Vancouver, Regina, Edmonton, and Montreal to demand an apology from Justin Trudeau. They say the 11-year-old’s false allegation that she was assaulted by an “Asian” man targeted the Chinese community.
The sudden emergence of this group came as a surprise to several journalists and researchers on the far-right, including myself.
The Chinese-Canadian Alliance, a newly registered nonprofit organization, chartered buses to Ottawa for the demonstration last weekend. Members of Toronto’s anti-Muslim movement posted information about the buses and encouraged people to join the demonstration.
This isn’t the first time that anti-Muslim groups have travelled between Toronto and Ottawa. In October, the Northern Guard and Ottawa Proud Boys came for the so-called anti-Trudeau demonstration and this past June, several Toronto-based groups went to Parliament Hill for the “Million Canadian March.” While Breitbart claimed 5,000 people attended this demonstration, in actuality about 200 people showed up.
February’s “Hijab Hoax” demonstration brought 500 demonstrators who faced off against 150 antifascists, separated by police and crowd control barriers spanning nearly the entire length of the Parliament Hill lawn. Michael Hansen, the producer of the Islamophobic film Killing Europe, was there early and got into arguments with the antifascists, as did Proud Boy Brandon Vaughan, who was arrested after shoving a protester in the chest with both hands.
The antifascists took up the space in front of the Centennial Flame before the anti-Muslim groups arrived, engaging several members of the public with pamphlets explaining why they were there. A dozen or so NDP members, in town for their convention, also came to join the counter-demonstration.
The main “Hijab Hoax” demonstrators arrived and were escorted by police up the side of the Parliament Hill lawn where they took up the space to the left of the stairs. A small number of antifascists tried unsuccessfully to shove through the police line to get closer, and three of them were arrested.
The main walkway was closed to the public, and the sound system brought by the anti-Muslim demonstration was barely loud enough to be heard from the Parliament Hill driveway.
Another journalist, who was inside the anti-Muslim demonstration, tells Torontoist that some members of La Meute, Storm Alliance, and the Northern Guard were wearing shirts identifying them as security.
On the same day, there was a sister rally in Calgary hosted by the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam, a racist and antisemitic group, and the homophobic Street Church. The event was attended by a number of Chinese-Canadians.
In the past two weeks the Hijab Hoax Twitter account has tweeted and retweeted several Rebel Media videos critical of Trudeau.
In other news…
>> PEGIDA held an event on the weekend of the anniversary of the Quebec mosque shooting along with the Northern Guard, III%ers, and the Proud Boys. Some brought weapons and bragged about assaulting antifascists at their demonstration at Mel Lastman Square.
>> The JDL also was calling the anniversary “Hijab Hoax Day” and asked people to go on social media to “explain the many fake causes of ‘islamaphobia’ [sic]” and “remember the many cases of terrorism committed in the name of Islam.”
>> On January 28, about 30 Chinese Canadians held a “Hijab Hoax” demonstration at Queens Park.
>> On February 13, neo-Nazi and anti-Black racist graffiti was found at the Leuty lifeguard station in the Beaches.
>> On January 22, The Centre for Jewish Defence Facebook Page held a “Say No to M103” demonstration at the Anti-Racism and Anti-Discrimination Town Hall being hosted by MPP Arthur Potts, Minister Michael Coteau, and MP Iqra Khalid, the co-sponsor of M103. Some of the regular cast of anti-Muslim demonstrators showed up to yell and disrupt the event, prompting Meir Weinstein, the head of the JDL, to tell them to shut up and sit down. Neo-Nazi Paul Fromm also attended.