The Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC) has filed a hate speech complaint with the Toronto police against a speaker at this year’s Al-Quds Day rally at Queen’s Park.
In his speech at the June 24 event, Maulana Syed Mohammad Zaki Baqri of the Council of Islamic Guidance and the Al Mahdi Centre said, in English and Arabic, that, “Israel, Zionism, should and must know … it is the law that whoever oppresses, he has to be eliminated. One day or the other,” the FSWC alleges in its complaint.
The organization has provided police with a video of the statements.
In a letter to Ontario Attorney General Yasir Naqvi, the FSWC alleges that Baqri’s speech violates Sections 318 and 319 of the Criminal Code, “Advocating Genocide and Public Incitement of Hatred.”
Violations of both sections can lead to imprisonment, the FSWC pointed out in a press release.
“Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center is disheartened by the vilification of Jewish Canadians and Israel on Toronto’s streets,” the group’s statement said.
The annual Al-Quds Day march and rally in Toronto made its way from Queen’s Park to the American consulate. Members of the Jewish Defense League (JDL) organized a counter-protest directly across from the consulate.
Prior to the event, B’nai Brith Canada launched an online petition asking the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to deny entry to American Holocaust denier and conspiracy theorist Kevin Barrett.
“Toronto police must not allow Queen’s Park, our provincial legislature, to become a platform for Holocaust denial and anti-Semitism, and the CBSA (Canadian Border Services Agency) must not allow Kevin Barrett into our country. Enough is enough,” wrote B’nai Brith in a news release.
Despite garnering more than 2,000 digital signatures, the petition was unsuccessful and Barrett addressed the crowd, as scheduled.
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) shared photos of marchers carrying Palestinian flags and signs calling for a boycott of Israel, as well as a video on Twitter of protesters chanting, “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”
“We urge leaders in government and civil society to join us in strongly condemning this shameful demonstration of bigotry and extremism,” Berl Nadler, the Toronto chair of CIJA, said in a statement.
“It is disturbing, but not surprising, to see that the Al-Quds Day rally was once again a platform for calls for Israel’s destruction and the airing of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories – including the claim that Israel was behind 9/11.”
Hebrew music could be heard from the JDL counter-protest, which included individuals waving Israeli and Canadian flags. People also held signs for Pegida, an anti-Islamic group.
There was a heavy police presence along University Avenue to keep the two crowds apart, after they both converged by the consulate in the late afternoon.
Al-Quds Day started in Iran in 1979, as a way to protest Jerusalem Day. It’s traditionally held around the world on the final day of Ramadan and generally includes calls to end the “occupation” of Jerusalem and for the destruction of Israel.