Canadian Jews, Arabs unite on racism

Several Jewish and Arab groups in Canada are uniting to confront anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim hate speech and vandalism.

    There are more than 600,000 Muslims in Canada today

    The Canadian Arab Federation (CAF) has teamed up with the Canadian Jewish Congress (CJC) and the administration of Ryerson University to combat hate grafitti and flyers which recently appeared on the university's Toronto campus.

    "Some grafitti with the words 'Die Muslims Die' adjacent to the Star of David were painted on one of the walls of the multi-faith room used by Muslims at Ryerson university," CAF president Omar al-Ghabra told

    According to university officials, the incident occurred on 23 July and was reported to the Hate Crimes Unit of the Toronto police who launched an investigation.

    For its part, the CJC called the racial epithets "despicable" and "abhorrent" and said "no one should have to suffer this kind of racism".

    "Ryerson painted over it and said they did not need our help then," al-Ghabra said.

    'Kill Muslims'

    However, al-Ghabra says university officials contacted his organisation on 9 August seeking assistance after posters, inciting not only racial hatred but openly calling for beatings and murder of Muslims, were found on campus.

    "The Islamic infidels have no belonging in Toronto and in the world at all. We ask that whenever you spot a Muslim, whoever they may be - that you beat them and cause harm to them. Kill these Islamic infidels," the posters said.

    "This is [an] extremely disturbing incitement of violence ... explicit threats to commit murder," al-Ghabra told

    Vandalism and hate crimes are
    making a comeback in the West

    "The perpetrator(s) clearly intended to create a climate of fear on campus.  While many Arab and Muslim students are shocked, they are also determined not to be intimidated by these extreme hateful tactics," al-Ghabra


    Ryerson promptly called for a meeting between Jewish and Arab/Muslim community leaders. On 10 August, the CJC and the CAF, together with Ryerson university issued a joint press release:

    "Those who seek to divide the Ryerson community will not succeed," said Ryerson President Claude Lajeunesse. "This is clearly an attempt to provoke ill will within Ryerson University. Our faculty, staff and students are working together to ensure that the atmosphere of respect and cooperation that has been our hallmark, and which we value so highly, is not diminished."

    Jewish outrage

    The executive director of the CJC, Bernie Farber, believes the latest racial incitement not be an isolated case in Canada, but a first for Ryerson University.

    "There is no question from my perspective that this comes from the outside to drive a wedge between Muslims and Jews," he told

    Although he admits there has been tension between both groups in the past, Farber says that the CJC and CAF are working together to create "a fence of protection for students".

    "Despite our difference on other issues, we stand united on this issue," he said, adding that both groups are looking to create tolerance and mutual understanding on campus.

    Al-Ghabra agrees saying racism and hate speech impact both the Muslim and Jewish minorities in Canada.

    Anti-Semitic statements made against Jews have also been scrawled on Ryerson grounds.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera



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