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Justin Trudeau delivers remarks at the National Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony (May 2016). Photo: PMO

Trudeau: “We guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism”

One day after the Jewish Community Centres in Toronto, Vancouver and London, Ontario had to be evacuated after receiving bomb threats, Prime Minister Trudeau posted the following statement on his Facebook page (March 8, 2017):

This week, Jewish communities across the country have again been targeted by hateful threats and acts designed to make us all afraid. I want to say again – we will stand by you every day in the face of intolerance, prejudice and outright criminal acts. We understand the fear and anxiety each one of these threats creates in the Jewish community, especially when the locations targeted are places where Jewish families and children gather. The cowards who target Jewish schools, community centres and synagogues won’t shake our resolve, and we’ll work with law enforcement to bring them to justice.

In Canada, we stand together because we know that diversity is our strength. It built this country. Jews in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and across the country should know they have the full support of the Government of Canada as we guard against a resurgence of anti-Semitism. We’re with you, and will do everything we can to keep you safe.

The bomb threats are the latest in a string of anti-Semitic incidents targeting the Jewish community in Canada in recent months.

Jewish apartments in a North York building were targeted with anti-Semitic symbols, the words “Gas The Jews” were spray painted in Hamilton, swastikas were drawn in a classroom at York University, posters questioning the number of Holocaust victims were found at the University of Calgary and anti-Semitic flyers were scattered around Western University accusing Jews of murdering 6 Muslim worshippers at a Quebec City mosque in late January.

In February, an imam at Al Andalous Islamic Center in Montreal was exposed in a video dating back to 2014 praying to Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews” and to “make their children orphans and their women widows”.

A few days later, a hate crimes complaint has been filed with Toronto police against a downtown Toronto mosque affiliated with the Muslim Association of Canada, whose imam prayed in 2016 for the killing of Jews, disbelievers and enemies of Islam, and asked Allah to “purify” a mosque located on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem – the holiest site in Judaism – form the “filth of the Jews”. The Toronto imam, who also worked as a teaching assistant at Ryerson University, was subsequently fired from his job following a complaint from B’nai Brith Canada, a Jewish human rights organization.

Trudeau did not condemn the hateful anti-Jewish sermons by identified imams at the Montreal and Toronto mosques, but 17 Muslim and Jewish MPs issued a joint statement expressing their horror at the reports that imams in Montreal and Toronto called for the death of Jews. In the statement, the MPs wrote that they “condemn such behaviour and call on the mosques’ administration to take appropriate action. We are equally troubled by reports of hate notes posted outside identifiable Jewish homes in Toronto this past weekend, as well as deeply concerning accounts from university campuses of Jewish students being targeted and vilified. Anti-Semitism is real and we must stand together against it.”

In December 2016, Hamza Yusuf, a prominent American Islamic scholar who spoke at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto, admitted to “horrific” anti-Jewish rhetoric in the Muslim community. “We have some of the worst racism in our own community. The anti-Jewish rhetoric, you know, here in the Islamic community is horrific”, Yusuf told the participants.

On June 10, 2011 Shaykh Riad Ouarzazi, an instructor at AlMaghrib Institute, delivered a sermon at London Muslim Mosque (151 Oxford Street West, London, Ontario), in which he emphasized the importance of brotherhood and sisterhood within the Canadian Muslim community and implicitly urged Muslims to do business with Muslims to support and help the community.

To illustrate the challenges the Canadian Muslim community is facing, Ouarzazi said that Muslim organizations hire Jewish lawyers to sue one another, Muslim immigrants bring to Canada tribal conflicts from their homeland and Muslims advise other Muslims to take a mortgage with an interest that is banned in the Islamic Law instead of directing them to the available Islamic option.

“In fact let me share we you some statistics. In the GTA alone, in the GTA, Toronto GTA alone, 13-14 cases right now, 13-14 cases in the court happening, Muslims suing one another, not any Muslims, Muslim, Islamic institutions organizations suing one another. All appointing lawyers. Who are these lawyers? Jews. And who is the judge? A Jew as well. Who is paying for these lawyers? You and I,” said Ouarzazi.

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About Ilana Shneider

Ilana Shneider
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]

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