Quebec City mayor says city would not contribute ‘one cent’ to project

The head of a mosque where six men were killed earlier this year supports the formation of a deradicalization center in Quebec City, but the mayor is adamantly opposed, Canadian media reported Friday.

The center would be a branch of the one in Montreal that began operations in November 2015.

In the eight months leading up to the official opening the Montreal center handled 93 interventions where social workers were sent to meet families worried about radicalization of their children or other relatives. Since the shootings, officials said calls to the center have increased by 40 percent.

Quebec City mosque leader Mohamed Labidi said that service is needed in his community, where the mosque has received a steady flow of anti-Muslim notes and packages – three or four a week – since the shootings in January.

“For Quebec City, that would help a lot,” he told Canadian media.

A defaced Quran and suggestion to use a hog farm for an Islamic cemetery was the latest hate package received through the mail last week.

But to open the center, the city would have to contribute financially and Mayor Regis Labeaume is adamant that an office is not needed.

“Our position is very clear: We don’t need this in Quebec City and we won’t put in one cent,” Labeaume told Radio-Canada. “If we feel the need one day, then we’ll do it.”

A spokesman for the mayor’s office noted the Montreal branch serves all of Quebec, including Quebec City.

But where Montreal’s Centre for the Prevention of Radicalization Leading to Violence has handled mainly intervention with families to stem radical Islam, a Quebec City office would try to counter the propaganda of far-right anti-Muslim organizations that have sprung up in Quebec City and the province.

“The interventions that we do there (in Quebec City) are, in large, linked to the far right,” said Montreal center director Herman Deparice-Okomba. “That’s the importance of having an office in Quebec City – we would really develop an expertise adapted to its reality.”