The murder of six worshippers in January 2017 reached a dramatic conclusion in March when Alexandre Bissonnette pleaded guilty, avoiding a lengthy trial.
I’d like to ask for your forgiveness for all the harm I caused you, even though I know what I did is unforgivable. In spite of everything that was said, I am not a terrorist, nor Islamophobic … [I am] more a person who was carried away by fear and a horrible form of despair.
‘Semites’ and imperialism
Quebec has a long history of racial and religious problems, going back to the British conquest in 1763. The French were forced suddenly to accept ‘les maudits anglais‘ as their masters. The British were not gentle imperialists, and the Catholic French soon became second class citizens, with English the business language, and the economy controlled by these occupiers. They brought with them their ‘semites’, a handful of Jewish merchants and bankers, who faced discrimination, but more because it was politically acceptable to criticize Jews but not the British. In any event, Jews and Brits were considered the same — rich interlopers — and were resented.
This only got worse with the flood of poor east European Jewish immigrants in the 1890s. Canada wanted farmer immigrants, but the Jews were only interested in living in the large cities, especially Montreal, where they faced friction with their strange customs and tribal identity, centred on commerce, from the rag trade through to garment workers and…