Montreal

Quebec City man decries racist violence after being stabbed leaving convenience store

Karim Smaini posted a video to YouTube, denouncing what happened to him as the result of systemic racism in Quebec society — and blaming Premier François Legault for stirring up intolerance.

Karim Smaini, who came to Canada 7 years ago, says he faces anti-immigrant insults regularly

Mahdi Dardari, left, is a taxi driver who is now afraid, following his friend Karim Smaini's attack. Smaini, centre, is the victim of Friday's attack. Ben Cheikh, right, convinced Smaini to make the video he posted on YouTube denouncing Islamophobic violence. (Catou MacKinnon/CBC)

A Quebec City man is blaming Premier François Legault for inciting hatred against Muslims, after he was stabbed outside a convenience store in Quebec City's Saint-Roch neighbourhood in what he said was an unprovoked attack.

Karim Smaini, 38, said he was walking out of the store after buying cigarettes, when a couple called him a "goddamned immigrant."

He said he tried to talk to the couple. 

"It's not like this, my friend: we are all humans," he said he told the pair. "We are all brothers. It's not like this we will have a good society."

Smaini said instead of hearing him out, the man rushed him, as if to head-butt him. 

He said he backed away, but the woman got between him and the man, and the man reached around her and stabbed him.

Smaini said he felt a sharp punch to the left rib and put his hand to his side.

"I see my hand all red [with] blood," he told CBC News.

Keven Lavoie-Deschênes, 33, and Christina Bédard, 36, appeared in court Saturday. Lavoie-Deschênes has been charged with assault with a weapon and assault causing injury, and Bédard is charged with assault and breaking probation.

'Unhealthy ambience'

Police and paramedics were called to the scene, and Smaini was taken to hospital. He was not badly wounded in the attack.

On Saturday, the day after the attack, he posted a video to YouTube, denouncing what happened to him as the result of systemic racism in Quebec society — and blaming the premier for stirring up intolerance with the law that bans certain public servants from wearing religious symbols.

He said the way the law was passed — by limiting debate so that it could be done before the legislature's summer break — illustrated how the government was letting the majority rule at the expense of minority voices.

"So much racism in Quebec," he said. "It's very hard what we listen about my ethnicity, about my religion, about my past. They don't know where I'm from."

Watch Smaini's video below.

Smaini, who came to Canada from France seven years ago, said as a taxi driver, he faces anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim comments regularly.

"It's systematic — three, four times a week," he said.

He said there is a general climate of intolerance that has left him and his Muslim friends feeling insecure.

"It's a very bad, unhealthy ambience," he said.

He says he decided to make the video to shed light on the climate of hatred which he says could lead to the radicalization of young Muslim Quebecers who are left feeling alienated by the constant barrage of racial slurs and Islamophobic comments.

If every time a Muslim youth turns the radio on or opens the newspaper, he hears "Muslim, Muslim, Arabic, Muslim," Smaini asks, "What does he feel, you know?  It's very dangerous, very dangerous." 

Smaini, who said he trained as an emergency room doctor but whose credentials are not recognized in Quebec, said he is worried about the "democratization of hatred."

The key to change that mentality, he said, is "education, dialogue and sharing."

Corrections

  • A previous version of this story referred to the stabbing victim as Karim Boukermouda. CBC News learned the man's true identity through court documents.
    Jul 24, 2019 7:04 PM ET

With files from Catou MacKinnon

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