B’nai Brith Canada issued a statement Tuesday asking Montreal students protesting tuition fee hikes to stop using the Nazi salute. The students have been directing Nazi salutes at police, presumably as a mocking gesture.
“We condemn, in the strongest of terms, this inexcusable display of hate by Quebec student protesters that has outraged the Jewish community and demonstrated just how low the level of public debate has fallen on the streets of Montreal,” Frank Dimant of B'nai Brith wrote in the statement.
“The actions of these protesters, whether for the purposes of deriding Montreal police or drawing attention to their cause, defile the memory of the Holocaust and remind us just how quickly anti-Semitism and the manifestations of hate can venture their way into our public discourse."
Students compare Montreal police to Nazis
In a later interview with media, Dimant noted the salute is also offensive to any other groups who fought the Nazis and he added that mocking a Canadian police force with it was a poor choice. "We’re talking about the Montreal police force. We’re not talking about Nazis here (and) to try to make any comparison makes a mockery of the Holocaust.”
As the Montreal Gazette reports, the students have openly used the Nazi salute for weeks and even used swastikas in pamphlets. The swastika is the symbol the German Nazi party used in the years before and during W.W.II while they were in the state-driven process of murdering some six million Jews.
Student protests in Montreal grow
Student protests in Quebec have been centered in Montreal and began in mid-February as a protest of tuition fee hikes. Since then, others groups joined with the protestors and the focus and purpose of the demonstrations have become less clear.
The biggest march of student-led protestors was on May 22 after the provincial government passed Bill 78, which, in an effort to curtail the impact protests were having on the city, regulated how demonstrations could be conducted. Estimates vary as to the number but more than 100,000 marched in the streets that day.
Late Tuesday, Dimant said the head of the Quebec federation of University students, Martine Desjardins, contacted him and apologized for students using the Nazi salute. She told him that she would do what she could to influence students to stop using the offensive gesture.