TORONTO — The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) last week announced that former York University student Salman Hossain has been charged with promoting hatred against Jews and advocating genocide.
It’s believed to be the first time anyone has been charged with promoting genocide under Section 318.1 of the Criminal Code.
“This is certainly a benchmark case that would put this individual before the courts,” OPP Commissioner Julian Fantino said at a news conference announcing the charges.
Hossain, who resided in Mississauga but is now living outside the country, is subject to detention if he returns to Canada, said Fantino.
“We are doing everything in our power to bring him to justice,” said OPP deputy commissioner Vince Hawkes, provincial commander of investigations and organized crime. “There is no place in society for this reprehensible behaviour.”
Hossain, 25, first came to the attention of police three years ago over postings to a website that attacked Jews. Following an investigation, the OPP recommended to Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley that Hossain be prosecuted. Bentley withheld his consent for prosecution, saying Hossain could potentially rehabilitate himself.
Nevertheless, Hossain continued to post wild Jewish conspiracy theories on his website, “filthyjewishterrorists.com,” and openly called for the mass murder of Jews and their supporters. Last spring, responding to complaints about Hossain’s website, York University suspended him.
Hossain continued his wild anti-Semitic rants, even after he was charged. In a posting dated July 8, he responded to the charges by claiming there was a Jewish conspiracy against him and stating: “It has very little to do with calling for the revenge slaughter of the Jews and their allies. Of course, by calling for their extermination and genocide, I did the right thing.”
Saying he is no longer a Canadian citizen, Hossain stated: “At the end of the day, should I get extradited from where I am allegedly located, perhaps maybe assassinated, arrested, locked up or kept in custody, it will make very little difference to the cause. I am inciting Muslims and other anti-western forces who are reading this that should I in any chance get taken down, you will have to push forward the mission of bringing in foreign troops to exterminate the Jews and their allies.”
Hawkes said Hossain is facing three counts of promoting hatred against Jews and two counts of advocating genocide. He said Hossain was responsible for “violent, harmful information” on the website and worried it might influence “impressionable young people.” He told The CJN there was no indication Hossain was operating in conjunction with any group or organization.
Responding to a reporter’s suggestion that Hossain appears to be contemptuous of the charges, Fantino said, “it may be true that the individual is laughing at these charges, but at some point, he’ll have to face the music. We will pursue him.”
Fantino said that while there may be no extradition treaty with the country where Hossain currently resides – it is believed to be Bangladesh – “there is the opportunity for nations to have sidebar agreements.”
Speaking at the news conference, Canadian Jewish Congress CEO Bernie Farber applauded the OPP and the attorney general for proceeding with the case.
“We do not lightly abridge free expression here in Canada, but if any limitation on expression rights can unequivocally be demonstrably justifiable in our society, it must be to prevent the promotion of genocide. History, including that of my community, shows that ethnic cleansing and genocide are built on a foundation of dehumanization, a campaign of visceral hate and propaganda to prepare the ground for the killing field… As such, we must take the threats of Salman Hossain very seriously.”
Anita Bromberg, legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada, said Hossain’s website cannot be dismissed as the musings of a single man. His conspiracy mindset is found among Islamic extremists and there was evidence of it at the trial of the Toronto 18, a trial involving 18 people alleged to be members of an Islamist terrorist cell.