A pig's head left outside a Quebec City mosque is the latest in a string of incidents pointing to a rising tide of Islamophobia in the provincial capital and across Quebec, says a prominent anti-discrimination activist.
Haroun Bouazzi, co-president of the Association of Muslims and Arabs for a Secular Quebec, said there's a "real fear toward places of religious worship in our society," particularly mosques.
Bouazzi said negative comments about Muslims from politicians, including Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume, haven't helped matters.
"Politicians play on those fears, unfortunately," Bouazzi told Radio-Canada on Monday.
Labeaume recently speculated that Montreal mosques are hotbeds of radicalization.
He has also said Quebec City would favour Syrian families as refugees over single men because they are "less frightening to people," Bouazzi pointed out.
Bouazzi said it's no coincidence all four mosques in the provincial capital have recently been the target of Islamophobic attacks. Mosques in other parts of the province have also been targeted in recent years, he said.
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On Monday, Labeaume denounced the weekend incident, saying the act was committed by "cretins."
Speaking with reporters, he also praised the response by leaders of the targeted mosque.
Incident viewed as hate crime
The latest incident happened Sunday at Quebec City's Islamic cultural centre.
The pig's head was accompanied by a note saying: "Bon appétit." The consumption of pork is prohibited by practising Muslims.
Mohamed Yangui, the head of the centre, said there's no question in his mind what happened was a hate crime.
He said the four mosques in Quebec City are targeted about once a year.
But he views the incidents as isolated acts, and in general, he said, the mosque has good relations with people in Quebec City. He said he's trying not to let the incident bother him.
"It is a waste of time, money and energy," Yangui said. "We have high-definition cameras. We will certainly find the person who did this."
Representatives of the four mosques plan to meet soon to discuss the incident.
Quebec City police said Monday the investigation is ongoing.