Canada designates far-right Proud Boys as terrorist group

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Canada on Wednesday formally designated the far-right extremist group ‘Proud Boys’ as a terrorist organization. Besides Proud Boys, 12 other extremist groups were also placed in the list of terrorist entities, alongside the Islamic State and al-Qaida. In its statement, Public Safety Canada described Proud Boys as “a neo-fascist organization that engages in political violence”.

It further stated that members of the group support “misogynistic, Islamophobic, anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, and/or white supremacist ideologies and associate with white supremacist groups.”” The Proud Boys consists of semi-autonomous chapters located in the United States, Canada, and internationally,” the statement read.

The agency maintained that the Proud Boys group and its members have “openly encouraged, planned and conducted violent activities against those that perceive to be opposed to their ideology and political beliefs.”The Canadian government also called out the group for its evident role in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6 and targeting Black Lives Matter (BLM) supporters during BLM protests last year.

This development has come days after Canada’s House of Commons unanimously passed a motion demanding the federal government to designate Proud Boys as terrorist group, to address increasing white supremacism and right-wing extremism in the country. Reportedly, Canadian authorities have been monitoring the actions of Proud Boys even before the mob attack on US Capitol.

With the terror designation, the Canadian government may seize property and other belongings associated with the group. Furthermore, Canadian financial institutions may freeze any assets connected to the group under the country’s Anti-Terrorism Act. Extending financial support to the group and its activities would also be a crime and will invite terror-related penalties.

Founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder Gavin McInnes, the Proud Boys has emerged as a key player in the US white supremacist movements in recent years. It has carried out several activities related to far-right hate movement in Canada. Social media giants such as Facebook and Instagram banned the Proud Boys in October 2018 for violating their hate policies. Its current leader Enrique Tarrio was arrested in Washington D.C. last month on charges of destruction of property.

With the latest inclusions, Canada now has enlisted a total of 73 groups worldwide as terrorist entities. Besides the Proud Boys, Public Safety Canada also designated Russian Imperial Movement, Hizbul Mujahideen, and neo-Nazi terror groups The Base and Atomwaffen Division as terrorist organisations. The agency also added several offshoots of al-Qaida and ISIS to its list.

Significantly, Canada is first country to designate the Proud Boys as a terrorist group. Responding to the development, Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair stated that the country will not tolerate ideological, religious or politically motivated acts of violence. He described it as an important step towards combatting violent extremism in the country.

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