And so it continues.
The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Centre (FSWC) has filed a hate-speech complaint with Toronto police about yet another imam who recently allegedly called for the elimination of Israelis and Jews at an annual protest known to promote anti-Semitism.
Maulana Syed Mohammad Zaki Baqri of the Pickering-based Council of Islamic Guidance and the corresponding Al Mahdi Centre allegedly told the June 24 Al Quds Day rally in a combination of English and Arabic that Jews and Israelis need to be eliminated for what they’ve apparently done to the people of Gaza.
“The systematic elimination of Jews … Israelis, Zionists should know … It is the law that whoever oppresses, he has to be eliminated. One day or another,” the imam is heard saying to the crowd, several of whom are waving anti-Israel placards.
FSWC CEO Avi Benlolo said the complaint was filed two weeks ago with Toronto police hate crimes unit after their staff videotaped the proceedings of the event, which occurred at the Toronto-owned park north of Wellesley St. and Queen’s Park proper. He said some 2,000 people attended, including students and youngsters.
Efforts to reach Baqri by phone and by e-mail at both the Council of Islamic Guidance and the Al Mahdi Centre were unsuccessful Thursday.
Meaghan Gray of the Toronto police confirmed their hate crimes unit is reviewing the FSWC complaint.
In years gone by the Iranian-sponsored event was held on the lawn of Queen’s Park with the blessing of the provincial sargeant-at-arms and the speaker of the Legislature.
But Benlolo said this year they launched an online petition beforehand to ensure the provincial Legislature was not used “by these people to spew their hate.”
Instead, the crowd moved to the adjacent Toronto-owned park, without a permit to do so.
When I asked the city’s Municipal Licensing and Standards (MLS) officials whether the Al Quds Day organizers would be fined for not obtaining a permit, I was informed that people can’t get a permit to protest in a city park.
When I further explained that the event occurred on June 24 without a permit and 2,000 people attended, I got this bizarre response from MLS executive director Tracey Cook:
“Ticketing or other action against unpermitted gatherings in any of Toronto’s parks is undertaken by the Municipal Licensing and Standards Bylaw Enforcement and/or the Toronto Police Service, as appropriate,” she said. “The City received an anonymous call about a potential protest, but did not receive any complaints and were not in attendance.”
In other words they did not investigate and the Al Quds organizers were free to do as they wished in a city park, permit or not.
Benlolo said the most difficult thing for him to see was the young people involved in the protest who were listening to Baqri and “being taught to hate” Jews.
He said more and more incidents of hate speech are coming to light because hate speech charges are not being laid by the police.
“This is creating a precedent … it is allowing people to have the freedom to preach hate,” he said.
Benlolo said the charge laid recently by the Montreal police hate crimes unit against Sheikh Musa Al Nasr should provide the Toronto police “with the impetus” to do the same.
Al Nasr was charged with the wilful promotion of hatred following a sermon last December at Montreal’s Dar-Al-Arqam mosque. He is believed to be back in Jordan.
Source – Toronto Sun