Protest mashes together antifa, PEGIDA and anti-Bill 59 protesters
Montreal protest organized by PEGIDA still expected to take place later on Saturday
A protest that was meant to denounce Quebec's proposed hate-speech legislation was a meeting ground for protesters with antifa, apparent members of anti-immigration group PEGIDA and Bill 59 opponents on Saturday afternoon.
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The protest and counter-protest began at Place Émilie-Gamelin around 2 p.m. before moving down the street. Police blocked off Berri Street between Ste-Catherine Street East and René-Lévesque Boulevard to traffic and pedestrians as a consequence, and quickly broke the protest up.
No arrests were made, according to police.
Some protesters chanted "Freedom, freedom" in French while counter-protesters chanted, "Refugees are welcome" as the two groups confronted each other in downtown Montreal.
A previous version of this story said PEGIDA had organized this protest. In fact, a Facebook event planned for 2 p.m. was organized by a separate group opposed to Bill 59, Quebec's proposed hate-speech law.
Meanwhile, a secondary event planned on Facebook by PEGIDA Québec — a relatively new chapter of the international anti-immigration, anti-Islam PEGIDA organization based in Europe — still appears to be scheduled for Saturday afternoon at an undisclosed location.
Bill 59 is a controversial piece of legislation that has been denounced by the Parti Québécois and other groups as an attack on freedom of expression and on civil liberties.
PEGIDA Québec's event page for their protest says, in French, that Europe has opened the doors to the Islamic State by accepting refugees. "We need to protest this situation and refuse this mass immigration. Accept all the migrants, and tomorrow we will all be migrants," its Facebook event page says.