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Toronto Imam allegedly calls for “systematic elimination” of Jews

Yesterday Everyday Antisemitism covered the long antisemitic history of a Montreal-based Imam. This seems not to be an isolated case. Elsewhere in Canada, the Toronto Sun reported one Maulana Syed Mohammad Zaki Baqri, a cleric of the Pickering-based Council of Islamic Guidance and the corresponding Al Mahdi Centre in Toronto, who allegedly told the June 24 Al Quds Day rally there in a combination of English and Arabic that Jews and Israelis need to be eliminated for what they claim they have done to the people of Gaza:

The systematic elimination of Jews … Israelis, Zionists should know … It is the law that whoever oppresses, he has to be eliminated. One day or another”

That statement is notable because it shows that any distinction in Islamists’ perception between Jews and Zionists is merely cosmetic, showing the “anti-Zionism” cloak to often be an increasingly threadbare cover for antisemitism. This is common in antisemitic discourse generally, but the purveyors of it invariably give themselves away, as have these two Canada-based imams, by their obsessive focus on the “crimes” of Israel (real or imagined) and their apparent inability to censor themselves from the carrying across of antisemitic tropes to their criticism of “Zionists.”

In this case, the cleric is under investigation as a result of a complaint to the Hate Crimes Unit of the Toronto police. The article also sets out the police’s apparent unwillingness to act to ban the gathering, in a manner reminiscent of the UK Metropolitan Police’s attitude towards banning the Al-Quds day march there, at which were paraded Hizballah flags.

Such antisemitism is, unfortunately, often internalised from childhood in such cases, particularly within radical Islamic communities, to the extent that some of those who resort to it may have no idea that what they are doing is highly offensive if not illegal in the West. Even where they do know, far too often their commitment to their extremist beliefs overrides any awareness, as seems to be the case here. This is not to excuse the behaviour, but internalised beliefs are very difficult to undermine, particularly when they are allowed to enter general discourse where repeated use makes them acceptable. The best recourse is for police forces to grasp the nettle firmly and deal with them ever more strongly to the full extent of the law whenever and wherever they occur.