A widely-shared Facebook post is falsely claiming that several Montreal cafés popular among North African immigrants refuse to serve women.
The post was made in late March from a Facebook account under the name Raymond Fleury. Writing in French, he claimed “Some Montreal cafés on Jean-Talon refuse to serve women,” before criticizing what he called “Islamic integration” in Quebec. It has since been shared over 2,600 times, and is still online.
Fleury’s post appears to refer to coffee shops in the Little Maghreb district, which centres around Jean-Talon East between St-Michel and Pie-IX. While he didn’t name any coffee shops, numerous commenters singled out one establishment, Café Sable d’Or. Radio-Canada reporter Bouchra Ouatik visited the establishment and disproved the post, noting that women were present there as customers, and that she had no problem being served. She did not identify herself as a journalist while visiting.
She also visited six other cafés frequented by Moroccan, Algerian, and Tunisian populations, and found that they all served women. The owners of Café Sable d’Or also noted that they employ women.
CTV later reported the same information, calling the social media outcry an “online hoax”, with one café manager calling the post “a bit stupid”.
According to Radio-Canada, Fleury has never visited Café Sable d’Or or other establishments in the neighbourhood,
The post surfaced amidst a broader debate about the Quebec government adopting Bill 21, which would ban and public employee (including teachers and nurses) from wearing any kind of religious symbols or clothing. Critics of the bill say it targets Muslims, particularly women, who would be unable to continue wearing items like a hijab in any public job, regardless of their ability to do the job.