Journalist from Sask. struggles with anti-Islamic Facebook posts

A Montreal journalist who's originally from Saskatchewan says he's alarmed at all the negative comments directed against Islamic people appearing on his personal Facebook page.

Other Facebook users are seeing a spike in racist comments on their news feed

Some people "unfriend" those responsible for offensive comments appearing on their Facebook pages, but journalist Les Perreaux says he sees it as an opportunity to get people to think. (Giordano Ciampini/Canadian Press)

A Montreal journalist who's originally from Saskatchewan says he's alarmed at all the negative comments directed against Islamic people appearing on his personal Facebook page.

Les Perreaux, who's from the hamlet of Bellegarde in the southeast corner of Saskatchewan, says he has watched with growing alarm as false stories and quotes about Muslims are presented as facts by people he knows.

"Usually, it's complete malarkey," Perreaux told CBC Morning Edition host Sheila Coles.

As Perreaux sees it, the increase in anti-Islamic posts follows Canada's involvement in Afghanistan and Syria and, more recently, the debate over the wearing of the niqab at citizenship ceremonies.

Others seeing rise in racist posts

Perreaux is not the only one noticing a spike in racist views on social media.

After hearing Perreaux's story, Hemant Naidu of Saskatoon told CBC he is also seeing more inflammatory posts on Facebook, particularly since the election began.
Hemant Naidu says he is also seeing a spike in racist comments on his Facebook feed. (CBC)

"It seems to be getting worse and worse as we get closer to the day," Naidu said. 

"I look at Facebook and I like to get joy and recently I've been looking and I get angry right. It really started to bother me."

Naidu has started to reply to friends and correct inaccuracies or falsehoods. But in the last few weeks, he has decided to "unfriend" or "unfollow" some people on social media.

Calling out Facebook friends on the facts

Les Perreaux is also using facts to correct people on Facebook.

One fake item that ended up on his Facebook feed recently featured a photo of hockey commentator Don Cherry with a profane "quote" supposedly from a radio broadcast that advocated torture.

In fact, Cherry never said the thing, Perreaux said.

That was posted by a friend — a man Perreaux worked beside at a grocery story in Redvers some 30 years ago.

"A lot of people out there see something on Facebook and they take it at face value," Perreaux said.

He's also dealt with a number of other anti-Muslim posts in his Facebook feed, including some from friends and family members.

Rather than just shrug or "unfriend" the people who make these comments, Perreaux decided to try to confront them in an analytical and factual way.

"There are a few people I have called out — 'This is wrong, this is not true.'"

Perreaux said he's had a positive response from those he's tried to engage on the issue, and this gives him hope for the future.


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