Police in Peel Region, west of Toronto, have launched an investigation into a rally in Mississauga that allegedly incited violence and promoted hatred against Jews.
Police said privacy concerns prevent them from identifying who laid the complaint, but in a July 28 statement, B’nai Brith Canada said it was “demanding” a probe into the rally.
“We can confirm that we are aware of the protest and after seeing information circulating on social media, our officers proactively initiated an investigation, which is in its early stages,” Peel Regional Police spokesperson Sgt. Josh Colley told The CJN via email.
“Hate-motivated criminal investigations are highly complex and it is important the public understand how involved they are,” Colley added.
In its press release, B’nai Brith said videos of the rally, which took place July 22 in Mississauga’s Celebration Square, show protesters chanting in Arabic, “Remember Khaybar, oh you Jews, the Army of Muhammad will return!”
B’nai Brith noted that “Khaybar” refers to a famous battle in 628 CE, “in which Muhammad’s Muslim army defeated and then slaughtered Jewish tribes in the Arabian Peninsula.”
B’nai Brith alleges that other recordings of the protest feature young children shouting, “Israel and Hitler are the same,” along with attendees chanting in Arabic, “With our souls, with our blood, we shall redeem Al-Aqsa!” referring to the mosque that has been at the centre of tensions over the past several weeks, since the murder of two Israeli police officers at the site.
“Notable figures from Mississauga’s Arab community participated,” B’nai Brith said.
“These vicious and anti-Semitic chants are antithetical to our vision of a free and tolerant Canada,” B’nai Brith CEO Michael Mostyn stated.
The rally was “worrying” because it seemed to be “a spontaneous and hastily organized outburst of rage,” B’nai Brith Canada’s campus advocacy coordinator, Aidan Fishman, told The CJN.
Fishman said he believes it was in response to recent tensions over access to Muslim prayer sites on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount.
The consent of Ontario’s attorney general would be required if police seek a hate-crimes charge.
“These vicious and anti-Semitic chants are antithetical to our vision of a free and tolerant Canada.”
Carley Smith DeBenedictis, a spokesperson for the City of Mississauga, told The CJN that the rally did not occur on city property.
“Our security staff observed the protest taking place on the sidewalk,” she said.
Also last month, Peel Regional Police revealed that a Mississauga man, Kevin Johnson, was charged with the wilful promotion of hatred against Muslims.