Anti-racism rally planned for Thursday in Regina

The rising tide of right-wing extremism in North America is sad but not surprising, according to a rabbi and an anti-racism activist.

'These are long-standing battles that have happened,' says member of Sask. anti-racism group

Rabbi Jeremy Parnes said he sees no problem with people expressing their opinions about Israel or Judaism, as long as it does not cross the lines of hate speech. (Radio-Canada)

Five days after a woman was killed during an anti-racism demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., the Saskatchewan Coalition Against Racism will hold what it calls a teach-in and vigil against white nationalist violence in Regina on Thursday evening.

The rise of the alt-right political movement in North America is sad but not surprising, according to a rabbi and an anti-racism activist.

"I was very saddened, disappointed and distressed to see this kind of activity taking place," said Rabbi Jeremy Parnes of the Beth Jacob Synagogue. 

Heather Heyer, 32, was among counter-protesters who were marching through the streets of Charlottesville when a vehicle drove through the crowd, hitting some of the counter-protesters and killing Heyer. A 20-year-old man who was described as a Nazi sympathizer was charged with second-degree murder.

Parnes's sentiment is one shared by Chris Kortright, a member of SCAR. Kortright noted the historical presence of the Ku Klux Klan in Saskatchewan as well as other white nationalist groups such as the Soldiers of Odin

"None of this is new," Kortright said. "These are long-standing battles that have happened."

Kortright, a member of SCAR, said he is not surprised by discontent among white nationalists. (Radio-Canada)

Kortright said he thinks the emboldened white nationalist movements in the U.S. and Canada "want to maintain the power they had through settler colonialism. They see that they're losing it, so they're intensifying their responses."

Parnes said he is not aware of any recent anti-Semitic acts in Regina or in the province, though there have been buildings and monuments defaced in the past.

He added that groups that don't support Israel or Judaism are "entitled to free speech just like anybody else."

Parnes said as long as critics of Israel or Judaism express their opinions without promoting hatred, that's fair.

The rally will take place at the Peace Fountain, located at City Hall, and begins at 7 p.m. CST. 

With files from Radio-Canada's Lise Ouangari and Andreanne Apablaza