Protesters visit conference
October 23, 2011
People who spread hatred about others are not welcome in Canada.
That’s the message a group of more than 75 peaceful protesters sent out today at the Canada Islamic Society of North America, (ISNA) Canadian headquarters on South Sheridan Way where the conference Calling the World Back to Allah was being held.
The full-day conference is part of the Canada Launch Tour of the Islamic Education and Research Academy (IERA), a British organization seeking to establish a presence in Toronto and Montreal. They say they conference was held to build bridges amongst the Muslim community in Canada.
Jewish Defence League national director Meir Weinstein, said he and other groups came out for one simple reason.
“We don’t want those individuals who believe in hatred, coming into Canada,” he said. “They’re looking for a fertile country for radical influence.
“They’ve said things like ‘Jews are cursed,’ among all kinds of different hatred.
“The bottom line is, this organization is coming here from England trying to set up here,” he said. “In an Islamic state, there’s no freedoms. Iran is not a beacon of humility or light.”
IERA describes itself as a global dawah organization committed to presenting Islam to wider society.
After being linked to allegations of anti-Semitic and anti-gay remarks, the IERA’s conference drew criticism and was cancelled from some venues, including Toronto’s Sheraton Centre where today’s event was originally scheduled, after being linked to allegations of anti-Semitic and anti-gay remarks.
“This has to be exposed and confronted,” said Weinstein.
ISNA staff confirmed the conference was taking place inside the headquarters all day, but at the same time, sought to distance itself from the event. “ISNA is not organizing the conference, all we’re doing is providing a venue for the event,” was the response to an inquiry.
IERA head of communications Saleem Chagtai said the protesters demonize his group’s speakers.
“We’re reaching out and we’re not interested in hate,” Chagtai said. “We’re interested in moral discussions.”
He said media reports that link them to hate allegations are taking their words “deliberately out of context…stereotyping. It’s very much not like that.”
He also said his group was disturbed by the Sheraton’s actions.
“We don’t think that’s fair,” he said. “It’s very unbecoming for a multi-national corporation to cancel.”
In defended the IERA’s stance on homosexuality.
He said homosexuality is looked upon as a sin by his group, but that doesn’t give “anyone a right to taunt or treat them any differently than anyone else.”
One of the IERA speakers Malaysian convert Hussain Yee, has said “the Jews” are “the most extremist nation in this world.” He also suggested that Jews perpetrated and celebrated the 9/11 attacks.
Various faith groups representing different denominations, carried Jewish flags, signs that read ‘Stop Islamic Racism’ outside ISNA headquarters in Mississauga, including: Canadian Hindu Advocacy, International Christian Voice, Canadian Egyptian Congress, Costa Christian Mission and Lakshmi Narayan Hindu Temple
Peel Regional Police were on scene to ensure crowds stayed controlled, but most of the protesters appeared peaceful, seeking to inform and enlighten.