Controversial Speakers At Conferences
MONTREAL — Conferences held in Montreal and Toronto by a British-based Muslim group drew criticism from those who believe it espouses antisemitic, anti-feminist and homophobic views.
The Sheraton Toronto Hotel and the Muslim Students Association of Concordia University decided not to provide a venue for the Calling the World Back to Allah conferences following the outcry.
The Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA) held the meetings at the Islamic Centre of Canada in Mississauga, Ont., Oct. 23 and at a hall next to a Montreal Islamic centre Oct. 21. About 500 people attended each event. The IERA wants to set up a Canadian branch.
In Mississauga, about 30 protesters from the Jewish Defence League rallied outside the gathering. It became heated enough that police had to separate the sides.
In Montreal, the Jewish gay group Ga’ava expressed concern over certain scheduled speakers’ “heinous remarks” in the past about Jews and homosexuals.
It asked Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to bar the British Hamza Andreas Tzortzis and Abdur Raheem Green from entering Canada. Tzortzis did speak here.
IERA spokesperson Saleem Chagtai said the group is being unfairly demonized. “We are not responsible for things that [speakers] say out of IERA’s venues and conferences,” he said. “And in the cases where we have investigated their statements, we’ve found they were taken grossly out of context.”
The Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and B’nai Brith Canada also warned of the IERA’s history of being associated with controversial views.
Premier Visits Israel
HALIFAX — Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter is in Israel and the West Bank this week leading a trade mission. A number of Nova Scotia businesses are taking part in the Oct. 19-26 mission, including Dalhousie University, the Halifax Port Authority and the Brain Repair Centre. Dexter was to meet with senior Israeli officials, including President Shimon Peres, as well as Palestinian trade officials and Hasan Abu-Libdeh, the Palestinian Authority’s minister of national economy. “There are tremendous opportunities in the Middle East for Nova Scotia’s high-growth sectors, including information and communications technology, clean technologies and marine and life sciences,” Dexter said.
TV Show Scrapped
TORONTO — A reality TV show featuring a character who said she hated “everyone equally – especially Jewish people” won’t be aired after a network failed to pick it up, its producers said this month. Lake Shore was billed as Canada’s answer to MTV’s Jersey Shore. It was to have featured a cast of eight, labelled by ethnic background, including a Jewish woman and one of Turkish descent who made the antisemitic remark in a promotional video. It led critics to call the show racist.
Tory Areas Favoured
OTTAWA — Shuls and mosques in ridings with Tory MPs had far more requests for federal security funding approved versus those from ridings of opposition MPs, the Ottawa Citizen reported. Only 28 per cent of applications from opposition ridings to the four-year-old, $3-million Communities at Risk Infrastructure Pilot Fund were approved, compared to half of those in Tory ridings.
Most rejected requests came from Montreal Liberal MP Irwin Cotler’s Mount Royal district.