The Proud Boys grabbed headlines worldwide last year during the first presidential debate between then-President Donald Trump and his Democratic contender Biden.
Canada has announced that it will be designating the US-based far-right group ‘Proud Boys’ as a terrorist entity in an attempt to crack down on “ideologically motivated violent extremism” in the country. With this, the all-male neo-fascist group will be added to a lengthy list of international terrorist organisations, that includes ISIS, Al Qaeda and al-Shabab.
“Their violent actions and rhetoric are fuelled by white supremacy, anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, Islamophobia and misogyny, and unfortunately, often in combination of all of the above,” Canada’s Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said at a press conference. His announcement came weeks after a few Proud Boys joined the violent mob of Trump supporters that stormed the US Capitol building ahead of President Joe Biden’s inauguration.
The Proud Boys grabbed headlines worldwide last year during the first presidential debate between then-President Donald Trump and his Democratic contender Biden. Trump was widely criticised for calling on the group to “stand back and stand by”, when he was asked specifically to condemn white supremacist and militia groups.
Who are the Proud Boys?
The all-male neo-fascist group was founded in 2016 by Vice Media co-founder and Canadian-British right-wing activist Gavin McInnes. According to the Southern Poverty Law Centre, the Proud Boys are known for their “anti-Muslim and misogynistic rhetoric” and have been classified as an ‘extremist group’ by the FBI.
To be inducted into the fold, a Proud Boy must first proclaim that he is a “a Western chauvinist who refuses to apologise for creating the modern world”. According to the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the group is also known for anti-transgender, anti-immigration and anti-Semitic views.
However, members of the group insist that they are not, in fact, racist. The group’s current leader Enrique Tarrio, an Afro-Cuban, said that the group has “longstanding regulations prohibiting racist, white supremacist or violent activity”, USA Today reported. They claim that they do not support white supremacists, and merely banded together to oppose the activities of the anti-fascist movement known as Antifa.
But members of the group are often seen at rallies carrying guns and bats and a few have even been convicted of violent crimes against left-wing groups and activists. The group is known to show up bearing arms at right-wing and liberal leaning protests across the United States.
The name of the group was inspired by a song from the musical version of the Disney film ‘Aladdin’. Members usually don a fixed uniform of red ‘Make America Great Again’ caps from Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and black and yellow polo shirts by the apparel brand Fred Perry. Incidentally, the brand withdrew the design after it came to be associated with the far-right group, CNN reported.
Proud Boys have also been associated with other far-right gatherings and protest marches that have turned violent, such as the infamous ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina in 2017. A former member of the group, named Jason Kessler, helped bring together members of groups like the Ku Klux Klan and other neo-nazi and militia groups for the event.
Source: The Indian Express