In the days after a Holocaust-denying, anti-Semitic article ran in a London, Ont.-based Arabic-language newspaper, police are investigating whether it qualifies as a crime, while politicians who had advertised in the paper are vowing never to do business with the publication again.
According to a statement by B’nai Brith Canada, an article titled “The Question Which Everyone Ignores: Why Did Hitler Kill the Jews?” ran in the June-July issue of the Al-Saraha newspaper, which B’nai Brith says can be found “in every Middle Eastern restaurant and every Middle Eastern grocery in Southwestern Ontario.”
The article by Egyptian writer Salah Montasser originally published in Al-Masry Al-Youm, an Egyptian daily newspaper, asserts that the figure of six million Jewish Holocaust victims is based on “Jewish propaganda” that “managed to spread [this number] and establish it.”
It accuses Jews of causing “most of the economic collapses that occurred in the banks in the period between 1870 and 1920.”
Montasser also said “the first theatres of homosexuality appeared in Berlin in the 1920s, and the first presentations of pornography appeared in 1880 and 1890 by the hands of Jewish authors.”
In a statement, B’nai Brith Canada CEO Michael Mostyn said the article “constitutes an obscene form of hate propaganda aimed at Canada’s Jewish community. Its appearance in a community newspaper which hosts advertisements from local businesses and mainstream political parties is extremely worrying.”
After contacting Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office to inform them about the anti-Semitic content in the newspaper – in which it had placed a full-page “best wishes” ad on the occasion of Ramadan – Wynne sent an email to Mostyn condemning the publication.
“I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the statements in the Al-Saraha article that deny the Holocaust and express anti-Semitic and homophobic views. Statements like these, filled with hatred, prejudice and lies, have no place in our society,” Wynne wrote.
“The Ontario Liberal caucus was completely unaware of Al-Saraha’s intent to publish this article when it purchased advertising space to convey Ramadan greetings to the community. I assure you that our caucus will no longer purchase advertising space in this publication.”
Liberal MPP Deb Matthews, whose advertisement had also appeared in Al-Saraha, echoed the sentiment.
“I want to condemn, in the strongest possible terms, the statements in the Al-Saraha article. Statements like these, filled with hate, prejudice and lies, have no place in Canadian society.”
Al-Saraha was a recommended news outlet for new immigrants by the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership (LMLIP), a government-funded agency.
The LMLIP released a statement explaining that it had prepared a resource guide in 2012, which links to media outlets in the London area, including Al-Saraha.
“The link to the publication in question has been removed. The City of London and the London and Middlesex Local Immigration Partnership do not condone the racist and homophobic views,” the statement said.
Al-Saraha publisher Abdul-Hadi Shala told the London Free Press through a translator that he was unaware of the facts and apologized to Jewish people.
“I didn’t mean to reject something that happened historically,” he said.
“I was curious to know why Hitler killed Jews during the Holocaust, so I read through his article and I found information.”
London Police Service spokesperson Sandasha Bough said police are investigating.
“There has to be a Criminal Code offence. So in order for us to lay any charges at all, there has to be a Criminal Code offence that has been committed. They’re going to have to read through everything and determine whether anything has taken place within that article that has been published,” Bough said.
She added that she couldn’t make a determination about when investigators would make a decision.