Words of Prey (May/June 2007)

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“Sin city,” “La Belle Ville,” and “the City of Saints” have all been used at one point or another to describe our metropolis. Now Journal de Montreal scribe Fabrice de Pierrebourg is intent on adding the sensationalist sobriquet “Montrealistan” to the top of the list.

In his book Montréalistan: Enquête sur la mouvance islamiste, de Pierrebourg cautions that in a sinister post 9/11 world this city deserves special scrutiny. As he pointed out in an interview with one of his buddies at the Journal, "Montreal is a harbor, a logistic base to plan, prepare and to finance terrorist attacks."

Like most second-rate tabloid journalism (think Allo Police), it is de Pierrebourg’s lurid presentation that packs a pejorative punch. Taken alone the term “Montrealistan” implies that all Arabs are terrorists. In addition, it does not distinguish between Arabs and Muslims of other ethnicities.

The term “Montrealistan” has its roots in France where in 1995 counter-terrorism agents dubbed UK’s capitol “Londonistan” due to the city’s number of exiled Islamist groups. In fact more than a year before Montrealistan hit the shelves British journalist Melanie Phillips (voted most “Islamophobic” Journalist by the Islamic Human Rights Commission in 2003) had already published Londonistan: How Britain is creating a terror state within.

De Pierrebourg has had Canadian predecessors as well. On Aug. 9 2006 National Post columnist Barbara Kay wrote about the fear of what she called “the rise of Quebecistan.” In paranoid prose she argued that if the proper measures were not taken, “the word would go out to the Islamosphere that Quebec was the new Londonistan.”

Like Phillips and Kay, de Pierrebourg justifies his use of xenophobic slurs by claiming they are needed to sound the alarm. Recently, he argued, “I didn’t do it to say that all Muslims are terrorists. But, keeping your head in the sand is never the solution.”

Perhaps it is time that one of us “Montrealistanis” told de Pierrebourg that his own head is stuck firmly somewhere else.

By: Brendan K. Edwards