Siege and swastikas at Saint-Barnabé-Sud

Siege and swastikas at Saint-Barnabé-Sud

The Superior Court of Quebec has requested the removal of several invisible swastikas on Route 235 in Saint-Barnabé-Sud, Monterrey. It is the latest chapter in a more than two-year saga between an immigrant family and the municipality.

Saint-Barnabé-Sud approached the Supreme Court two weeks ago to remove swastikas from the facade of a building and shut down a website.

Before Judge Daniel Urbas, Yahya Mehta agreed to remove Nazi symbols but refused to end his website’s operations. In the hours following the verdict he replaced the swastikas with posters proclaiming “the most racist city in the world”.

“What I did, I did to protect my family. What is happening to us is a disaster,” argued Mr. Meddah, calling for a public inquiry to shed light on the “torture” his family was going through.

A conflict that dragged on for two years

Citizen and municipality are not in their first fight. According to Yahya Mehta, who has lived in Quebec for many years, the conflict between the municipality and the family lasted for two years. “They want to break us up and leave,” said the man we met in the village two weeks ago.

“Every day or so, there’s something,” said Mr. One of Mehta’s minor sons was present during our visit to the family property.

Infographics The Press

In 2021, the conflict with the municipality arose following the hiring of Linda Normandeau as general director of Saint-Barnabé-Sud, the Meddahs say. Yahia Meddah’s sons would have been the first to ban charging their electric vehicles at public terminals. He allegedly abused some of his children, the Patriot says.

He alleged that the public administration took advantage of the location of the post office within the municipal office to open his mail and catch him missing municipal tax checks.

Reached by phone, Linda Normandeau denied the accusations of racism, maintaining that the small municipality of 1,000 people “faces a family that refuses to conform to municipal regulations.”

Unfortunately, all citizens pay for it. The entire community is held hostage.

Linda Normandeau, General Director of Saint-Barnabé-Sud

Mme Normandeau notes that Mehta’s interventions were the result of complaints filed by citizens. As for the only charging station in the municipality, it was used by madhas for up to 14 hours, leaving other people unable to use it.

According to Yahia Meddah, in October 2022, the conflict escalated after a complaint was made to the municipality about a generator inside the Meta property when the municipality’s preventive unit inspected it. In a video posted by the family on its website, it shows firefighters and police officers breaking down the door, denouncing the “looting” of its property, and then mentions several “hostiles” in the apartment.

A ruling issued by Quebec’s superior court on June 7 also ruled in favor of the municipality, which wanted to conduct a follow-up inspection to ensure that the requested corrections had been made. Judge J. Sebastien Vaillancourt’s decision refers to several refusals by the Mehta family to authorize access to their property. In an interview, Yahia Meddah swore he was always open to inspecting his properties.

formal notification

The family’s numerous grievances were detailed on the website following the formal notice sent by Saint-Barnabé-Sud. Once that was blocked, Mr. Metah opened another website. Then another. And one more thing.

“These unfounded and discriminatory attacks against the city have consequences for all its citizens. “The city seems to be motivated by racism” and the inhabitants of Saint-Barnabé-Sud are showing intimidation, racism and discrimination, although these gratuitous attacks are not founded,” we read in the official statement. I was able to consult.

Judge J. Sebastien Vaillancourt, in his judgment, noted that “the accusations were emphasized. [des Meddah] They are vulnerable to harassment and there is no evidence of discrimination whatsoever.

Disturbance in society

Mme Normande laments that the file has taken on “enormous proportions,” taking up all the time and resources of the small municipality.

He mentions “several” legal cases with the family of Yahya Mehta, whom he says he has a personal grudge against. Pursuant to the court order, the citizen is prohibited from communicating with the Director General other than through e-mail.

“Currently, there is a lot of talk about intimidation against elected officials and municipal officials,” says Normando notes that he has the full support of the municipal council. “This is a good example. »

The presence of the Nazi symbol shocked the community, says Mme Normando. “Many citizens expressed their concern when they saw the posters,” he notes. Using such a symbol is terrifying to me. »

Many were shocked by the comparison to the Nazis, while others, some of whom are said to be of Jewish descent, were outraged to see the swastika near their homes.

The provincial deputy for Saint-Hyacinthe, Chantal Soucy, condemned the swastika display. “This symbol has no place in our society,” he said in an interview.

For his part, the federal deputy for Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot went to deliver a letter in person to Yahia Meddah expressing his regret and opening the door for debate. “Since I was elected vice-president in 2019, I have rarely seen such disrespectful comments towards the constituency and the citizens I represent,” Simon-Pierre Savard-Tremblay writes in Mrs. Later there is a phone conversation between the two.

The mayor of Saint-Barnabé-Sud, Alain Jobin, declined to comment on the matter.

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