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Thursday, November 20, 2014

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Calgary police decline to lay hate crime charges

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Calgary police will not lay hate promotion charges for materials posted on a Muslim website that attack Jews and cite the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Const. Eric Levesque, co-ordinator for hate crimes for the Calgary police, said the materials posted on the website, though offensive, do not cross the threshold into actionable hate speech. “Offensive language in terms of referring to Jews leading lives of debauchery may be offensive, but it is not a violation of the law,” he said.

Levesque was referring to an excerpt from the website operated by the Muslim Council of Calgary (MCC), which was the subject of a complaint by B’nai Brith Canada. A second excerpt investigated by police originated in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a Czarist antisemitic forgery that accused Jews of conspiring to dominate the world. Levesque said the MCC pulled the reference “once they realized what it was. It’s my understanding that as soon as they were made aware of it, once they learned about it, they pulled it.”

The materials in question had been removed from the site when The CJN attempted to access them, but copies could still be found online via the blog site, Blazing Cat Fur.

Among the materials downloaded from the MCC site, one section accused Jews of being eternal “enemies of the Islamic ummah [nation] since…Mohammad…began his call to Allah.” The site also states it is unlawful to end war or jihad between unbelievers, including Jews and Muslims, until the day of resurrection.

Another quote attributes all internal Muslim problems to Jews’ “artful plotting.”

In a section on the hijab, the site stated: “Jews have an important role in the destruction of nations through the Fitna (seduction temptation) of women.”

Another excerpt stated, “The Jews strive their utmost to corrupt the beliefs, morals and manners of Muslims. The Jews scheme and crave after possessing the Muslim lands, as well as the lands of others.” It blames Jews for “spreading destructive thoughts, beliefs and ideologies, such as Freemasonry, Qadiaanism, Bahaaism, Teejaanism and others.”

Levesque said the material in question had been posted to the website by a third party, though “it went through a moderator.

“I’m sure they’ve got a lot of postings coming through and this one got through.”

Levesque called the website “legitimate…Hate websites are usually in your face. This is a legitimate website that any religion…would have to give information about their faith.”

He was critical of B’nai Brith for asking for a hate crime investigation before contacting the MCC.

“Is it in the interests of harmonious community relations? Do we need to go from zero to 100 and put out a national press release?,” he asked.

“Ultimately, what we want is harmonious relationships between these communities…I didn’t want to see a legitimate Muslim website being impugned in the media as being antisemitic, because that is not the case.”

Jeffrey Smith, chair of community relations for the Calgary Jewish Federation, said the postings were “clearly offensive and clearly antisemitic.”

He said the community had been informed about the problematic nature of the website by CIJA, the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, and later learned the postings had been there from July 2012. The federation emailed the MCC asking that the postings be removed. “They took it off when it came to the [their] attention.

“It is their position that it’s a third party. They have a disclaimer that the views are not the views of the MCC,” he said.

In a statement published on the MCC website, the organization’s chair, Abraham Ayache said:

 “Information about controversial articles placed on our affiliate website, muslimsofcalgary.ca, was recently brought to our attention…We do not condone and fully reject the promotion of intolerance and hate.  Having investigated this matter without delay, we promptly removed the impugned material as being inconsistent with MCC’s views.”

“For any unintentional offence that may have been caused by this material to fellow Canadians and our friends in the Calgary Jewish community, we sincerely apologize.”

Smith said he’s accepting the MCC’s explanation that the material was posted by third parties and that the organization did not know their nature.

He said Jewish community does not have much of a relationship with the Sunni MCC. “We have better relations with the [Shiite] Ismaili Muslims.” However, in light of the incident, the federation is asking the MCC for one-on-one meetings. “Our mandate is for interfaith dialogue…We would like to see not just the apology we’ve seen, but something posted with an educational piece on the Protocols.”

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