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Canada Must Enforce Its Existing Hate Crime Laws

The time has come for Canada to finally get serious about addressing antisemitism and hatred against its Jewish community.

Over the last few years, several clear instances of antisemitic hate crimes have occurred throughout the country, though appropriate charges were never laid. B’nai Brith Canada has been diligent in reporting these hate crimes and demanding that the perpetrators be brought to justice. However, lawmakers have been silent when it comes to prosecuting these promoters of hatred and antisemitism.

In fact, as far as B’nai Brith can verify, Arthur Topham (who was convicted of promoting hatred against the Jewish people after a B’nai Brith volunteer reported him) is the only person in recent years who has been tried and convicted of the willful promotion of hatred against the Jewish community.

What will it take for the Canadian government to finally take hate speech against the Jewish community seriously?

Perhaps now is the time. Earlier this week, footage came to light of an imam at the al-Andalus Islamic Center in Montreal calling for the destruction of the Jewish people.

During his sermon, Sayed al-Ghitawi asks Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews” and to “make their children orphans and their women widows.”

While an investigation into al-Ghitawi is ongoing (B’nai Brith swiftly filed a complaint with Montreal police last week), we are not at all confident, as history has shown us, that the imam will be charged with a hate crime. Furthermore, we were disgusted by the mosque’s official statement in response to his actions.

Rather than unequivocally condemn his statement, al-Andalous instead justified al-Ghitawi’s sermons, saying that his calls to “destroy the accursed Jews” were taken out of context, and that the publication of both videos by CIJNews was “a shameless attempt to revive polemics against the Muslim community.”

Should the Jewish community be satisfied with such a response, one that does not even extend an apology for the hateful remarks one of its imams made? Will al-Ghitawi be rightfully charged for encouraging death and destruction against the Jewish community? 

To The Parliament of Canada,

We the undersigned request that an investigation be launched into the efficacy of hate crime laws in Canada as they currently exist, and address gaps in legislation preventing appropriate responses to targeting the Jewish community. 

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