Saturday, April 10, 2010

Quebec niqab hysteria: only the beginning?

She sat on a bench in Montreal, and she wore a Palestinian scarf. That may have been sufficient.

Concordia student Amal Asmar was set upon by two of Montreal's finest, roughed up to the point of screaming in pain--and then fined $1028 for making a noise and for "improper use" of the bench.

Police say they were investigating a 911 call about a possible murder, and that Asmar, sitting in the cold with a scarf around her face, resisted.

"Right away the girl was very aggressive with the police officers," said Commander Stephane Plourde.

The "girl" is 33 years old. And she "resisted" what, exactly? If you believe the police version of events, please contact me: I have some waterfront property in Florida going cheap.

Was this racial profiling? One can't be entirely sure at this point: Montreal authorities appear to be running a general shakedown racket, from the sound of things. But one can't rule it out:

The Centre for Research-Action on Race Relations says the case makes no sense at all....The director of CRARR [Fo Niemi] says tickets, such as those handed to Asmar, are often used against people of colour.

Given the sorry history of the treatment of minority groups by Montreal police--including numerous shootings of unarmed people with no charges laid--one has no reason to doubt this possibility. And could the police be operating with even more swaggering confidence now that the Quebec National Assembly has opened the flood
gates of xenophobia in La Belle Province?

No comments: