TORONTO — Organizers of a protest rally at the Pakistani consulate in Vaughan are being accused of a modern day “blood libel” for publishing a flyer that blames deadly terror attacks in Pakistan on a “Zionist plot.”
A flyer publicizing the rally, which took place Jan. 14, states in bold red letters: “Massacre of Shia Muslims… Zionist plot – local and regional extremists hands.” A group called Canadians Against Bloodshed appeared to be the sponsor of the flyer.
Jewish and Muslim groups condemned the flyer, while a former Pakistan-based journalist now involved in inter-community dialogue with Jews said Iran was likely responsible for the accusation.
“Iranian Shias are behind it,” said Tariq Khan, who runs the Weekly Press Pakistan website. “Iran is against Jewish Israel, so they are trying to provoke in each and every occasion against Jews. But Ajmi [non-Arab] Muslims have nothing [to do] with anti-Jewish feeling… Iranians want to promote hate against the Jewish People.”
Pakistan has been experiencing bloody terrorist attacks on a regular basis and two weeks ago, a series of attacks killed 116 Shiites and injured 150 in the Pakistani city of Quetta. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Islamic group affiliated with the Taliban, claimed responsibility for the Quetta attacks, which took place months before a scheduled election.
The rally at the consulate was to “condemn the Pakistani government for not providing security to its citizens… Long live Shia-Sunni unity – Down with Zionist plots,” according to the promotional flyer.
B’nai Brith Canada alerted police in York Region about the protest, warning “the inflammatory rhetoric of the promotional flyer… has the potential to incite hatred and spark violence against the Jewish community in Canada… The lurid nature of the flyer for tonight’s event amount to a blood libel that crosses boundaries.”
Len Rudner, director of community relations and outreach for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA), said, “We must always be concerned that there are individuals who still believe in the myth of a Jewish conspiracy. This is nothing new. It is deplorable that so little has changed.”
Rudner said it was unclear who was behind the poster and rally. “Canadians Against Bloodshed” seemed to be the group distributing the flyer, but it “appears to have been created for the purpose of promoting the rally,” Rudner stated.
CIJA asked police to monitor the event “for any actions or statements that would indicate a need for our community to increase its security preparedness or that could be in violation of the Criminal Code.”
Law enforcement officials were believed to have attended, but a call to York Regional Police was not returned by The CJN’s deadline.
Khan said that on hearing of the flyer, he contacted several Sunni imams, pointing to “a need to self-searching the root causes within our own ranks. It is too easy to throw the mud on other religions/nations/countries.”
Khan said three imams called him back “and their remarks were very positive.”
Meanwhile, the Council of Muslims Facing Tomorrow (CMFT) condemned the Quetta attacks, laying the blame with the Lashar-e-Jhangvi and the Sipahi-e-Sahaba.
“These notorious Sunni militias are criminal terrorist organizations secretly funded by the intelligence wing of the Pakistani military,” the CMFT stated.
“Sadly, and to the horror of most Canadian Muslims, there are Muslims in the community who shamelessly and without any conscience seek to exploit such tragedies, as the one in Quetta, to advance their own subversive agenda in this country.
“It is deeply painful to see how such medieval conspiracy theories persist inside the Muslim community,” said CMFT president Raheel Raza. “At a time when the Muslim community faces serious internal issues, it is shameful we continue to find some Muslims who place blames on others for Muslim failings. Painful as it is, the time is long past to keep denying we Muslims and no one else are the authors of our own misfortune. Fantasizing over such ridiculous ideas that there is a ‘Zionist plot’ serves only to deepen our self-inflicted misery, to avoid learning any lesson from our past history, and in refusing to be responsible for our present, deny any hope for our future.”
Khan, whose news website is read by thousands of Pakistani journalists, said, “In Pakistan, neither the government nor any other organization believes it was done by Zionists, Israel or Mossad. They believe it was done by Indian intelligence agencies and Russian intelligence agencies.”
Nevertheless, at the end of last week, the Daily Ummat newspaper ran a story which, when translated from Urdu, was headlined: “Security agencies in Pakistan arrest a Mossad operative from Lahore.”
The article claims the alleged agent had been held for 2-1/2 years in Guantanamo Bay, where he was brainwashed. “After that, he was sent to Afghanistan, where he was specially trained to plan terrorism. And finally, he was sent back to Pakistan.”
Relying on unnamed “credible sources,” the article states the alleged agent’s home contained a large cache of weapons, maps of sensitive areas and a laptop that showed he had been in touch with people in Israel via email.
“When the culprit was subjected to special interrogation mechanisms, he finally confessed that he was working for Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad,” the article stated.