Canadian Jewish groups are urging the Ontario government to stop an “anti-Semitic hate rally” from taking place on the steps of the legislature next month, saying it’s highly inappropriate for the Shia Muslim organized event to be held on public land, The National Post reported.
At last year’s Al-Quds Day, speakers compared Israel to cancer, waved yellow Hizbullah flags and erected large images of Ayatollah Khomeini, the Iranian leader of the Islamic Revolution who started the day in 1979 to mark the last Friday of Ramadan.
This year, the “International Day of Al-Quds” say they will gather to “express solidarity with all the oppressed of the world” and to “particularly remember the innocent civilians of Palestine who have been, and continue to be victimized by the oppressive and racist Zionist regime.”
Avi Benlolo, president and CEO of the Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies, sent a letter to Premier Dalton McGuinty Monday, asking that the government take “every step possible” to prevent the Al-Quds Day organizers from obtaining a permit allowing them to protest at Queen’s Park August 18, The Post reported.
“Ontarians were shocked and embarrassed that a blatantly anti-Semitic event was held at the seat of the provincial government,” Benlolo wrote, pointing specifically to remarks made by Iranian activist Zafar Bangash at last year’s rally.
“At last year’s event, Bangash called for a Jihad against Jerusalem, whereby Islamic Law would be imposed upon Israel; he was in fact captured on video at the rally shouting, ‘Inshallah I see that day when we, the Muslims, will march on Palestine and liberate Palestine…under Islamic law.’ There is every reason to believe this year’s event would feature similar messages of hate,” Benlolo wrote.
In an interview with the National Post from London, Benlolo said Queen’s Park is not a “platform to espouse their hate.”
“They can do it in a basement or in another institution. Why bring it to the government? It’s only because they want to gain legitimacy.”
Last year, the Center for Israel and Jewish Affairs videotaped the event in order to document “evidence” of the rampant hate being promoted at the forum, media spokesperson Steve McDonald said.
Last month, CIJA shared the video footage and their concerns with Ontario’s Sergeant-At-Arms at Queen’s Park, who approves applications for events held on the grounds of the legislature.
The group has not yet heard whether the Al-Quds application has been approved or denied.
“We don’t see this as a police issue, we see this as an issue for Queen’s Park to manage the use of the legislature’s grounds in an appropriate way and to prevent those grounds from being abused as a platform for hate,” McDonald said. “More importantly, perhaps, [we want to] allow for the Canadian public to see for themselves the sort of radicalism that’s being imported to our country by a very small segment of Canadian society.”
The Ontario legislature’s Sergeant-At-Arms Dennis Clark said they are “engaged in this application” process with the Al-Quds event organizers but would not elaborate further.
“An application comes through us, we take a look at it and then our investigative unit meet with the organizers and go over that they’re subject to the rules on the grounds,” he said, when asked what the general parameters for an application would be. The Sergeant-At-Arms also works with Toronto Police to ensure protests and events at Queen’s Park are carried out in a lawful manner, he added, according to The Post.
The ‘Free Al-Quds’ website says the international event will be held this year in Calgary, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver, plus London, England and 12 U.S. cities.
The Jewish Defense League of Canada has planned a counter-protest for 2-4 p.m. on August 18, the same time as when the Al-Quds event is being launched at Queen’s Park.