Moderate Muslims in Canada stand up to fight anti-Zionism, antisemitism
February 6, 2013 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
TORONTO - If left unchallenged, anti-Israel and anti-Zionist propaganda being spread in Canada will result in violence, warned Sohail Raza, director, Council for Muslims Facing Tomorrow.
“We have a very poisonous situation at hand,” said Raza. “I have no reason not to believe that it’ll turn violent one day: it’s just a matter of time and numbers.... The Muslim population is growing and, with that, are people bringing in their issues: those numbers are growing.”
Last month, speakers at a protest outside the Pakistani consulate in Vaughan blamed Israel, Zionists and the US for terrorist attacks that killed and injured Muslims in Pakistan. A protest across from the American embassy last September featured many of the same speakers blaming Zionists and Americans for an online video, Innocence of Muslims, deemed blasphemous by some Muslims.
Those protests are part of “a pattern that is forming in Canada.... The danger that is going to happen in the future is that they’re going to make every tragedy in the Muslim world into a Jewish conspiracy. They’re going to make the Jewish community, who have nothing to do with this, look like the villains in Canada.”
Raza is originally from Pakistan; he is a Shia Muslim. His wife, Raheel Raza, is a Sunni Muslim. He said they have both heard propaganda from the pulpits of local mosques.
“The US and Israel are the scapegoats of every tragedy, whether it’s a tsunami, an earthquake or a human tragedy brought about by Muslims themselves. [It’s happening in] Shia mosques because of the Iranian influence [and in] Sunni mosques because of the Wahhabi influence.”
He can reason with individuals, but “when it comes to a mob mentality...you lose the whole crowd.... Not everybody is thinking the same way but... the population is growing and then the mobs will grow as well.”
The “elements” spreading such conspiracy theories must
be exposed and those guilty of inciting hatred should face legal consequences, he said.
“A case in point: the Pakistani protest [in January] has to be dealt with by the authorities as a hate crime. You are motivating a mob of people against a community for no rhyme or reason.”
Tahir Gora, also originally from Pakistan and a Muslim, is the general secretary of the Muslim Canadian Congress, founder and director of Canadian Thinkers Forum, and he recently founded a new group, Muslim Committee Against Antisemitism.
Gora said it is clear that anti-Zionism and antisemitism are one and the same.
“Some people say, ‘Oh, anti-Zionism is different than antisemitism,’ but I don’t see it that way: I see that anti-Zionism is actually antisemitism,” said Gora.
The situation is “getting worse day by day.... These groups who are here in Canada, the US and the West blame our own miseries on Zionists and it’s ridiculous.”
He added, “They are doing this [to] distract people’s attention from the real cause of those issues: Islamic extremism. In the context of Pakistan, the real cause is the Pakistani army, as well.”
The Muslim Committee Against Antisemitism is planning a seminar to examine recent antisemitic incidents in Toronto, identify the groups responsible and “ask the Muslim community at large not to buy into their ideology.”
At the committee’s first meeting in November, “we all recognized, first of all, the right of Israel to exist and second, we realized that the prevailing antisemitism in some of the Muslim Diaspora in Canada, particularly, is impeding our thought process. Some Muslim groups show hatred towards our fellow community, the Jewish community, [and] that’s not the right approach. We feel that our community should denounce any sort of antisemitism in Canada. We need to keep our eyes and our ears tuned for these kinds of activities so we can confront hatred against Jews [because] that’s not the way we should live in a civilized world.”