Upcoming Muslim Association Of Canada Conference Features More Speakers With History Of Anti-Israel And Antisemitic Comments

On August 24, HonestReporting Canada published an important alert informing the news media and the general public, about statements seen as antisemitic by one featured speaker, Sheikh Nashaat Ahmed, at the upcoming Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) annual conference, scheduled for early September in downtown Toronto.

Subsequent to our alert and complaint sent to MAC, Sheikh Ahmed is no longer listed as a scheduled speaker on the MAC conference website, nor is he listed on the program itinerary. For its part, MAC published this release on August 30 committing to conduct a thorough review of this matter.

Regrettably, other speakers are scheduled to speak at the MAC conference who have problematic histories.

Another speaker, Fadel Soliman, an Egyptian-born lecturer who has described Islam as a “religion of resistance,” has reportedly spoken in support of men using physical punishment against their wives, saying that abuse is justified if a husband is displeased with his wife’s actions.

In a lecture given in the United Kingdom, it was reported that he told students that after two “non-physical” attempts to change a wife’s behaviour, “the next stage must involve something physical, in order to escalate the intensity of the warning”.

Another speaker, Osama Abuirshaid, the executive director of American Muslims for Palestine, has a long history of making offensive statements.

In a 2017 webinar entitled “Why BDS matters,” Abuirshaid, in our view, attempted to rewrite history and omit thousands of years of Jewish presence in Israel, telling listeners that “there is no, not even a single evidence that a (Jewish) Temple existed there,” in Jerusalem.

While anti-Israel detractors frequently attempt to diminish Jewish history for ideological reasons, there is extensive archaeological evidence of a Jewish Temple in the First Century CE.

Abuirshaid has accused “Israel firsters” of “double loyalty,” a common antisemitic trope which calls into question the loyalty of Jews living outside of Israel.

Speaking at an Islamic convention in Chicago in January, 2016, Abuirshaid reportedly claimed that “Israel is a direct challenge to the entire region,” referring to the Jewish State as a “colonial enterprise” and claiming that it was created to “take and to swallow Palestine.”

Another scheduled speaker, Hatem Bazian, an assistant professor at Zaytuna College, a Muslim university in Berkeley, California, has posted content comparing Israel to Nazi Germany in a 2015 post to his Twitter account. Such statements are not merely historically inaccurate, as well as being an affront to the victims of the Holocaust, but according to the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance’s (IHRA) working definition of antisemitism, a textbook example of Jew hatred.

He has also claimed that Hamas, the Gaza-based Islamist terrorist group’s use of human shields is “Israeli propaganda.” In reality, the group’s usage of human shields is well documented.

Bazian also in our eyes embraced the anti-Israel conspiracy theory which accuses the Jewish State of exercising inordinate control in the halls of power, telling an audience at an Islamic conference in 2014 that “our congress is an Israeli-occupied territory.”

Bazian has also reportedly accused Jewish university donors of controlling those institutions, telling attendees at a 2002 rally to “take a look at the type of names on the building around campus — Haas, Zellerbach — and decide who controls this university.”

Another speaker, Ovamir Anjum, the Chair of Islamic Studies at the University of Toledo, is a prominent advocate of the BDS (Boycott Divestment Sanctions) movement against Israel, and was a signatory of a 2014 petition, “Middle East Scholars and Librarians Call for Boycott of Israeli Academia,” which called for colleagues in academia not to collaborate in any way with Israeli academic institutions.

The intersection of antisemitism, anti-Israel propaganda and the BDS movement is unsurprising. The BDS movement, which claims to be a non-violent campaign to pressure Israel to change its behaviour, is in actuality a campaign to delegitimize and demonize the Jewish State.

The upcoming Muslim Association of Canada conference could be an opportunity to bring together members of Canada’s Muslim population for education and growth and to promote peace, mutual respect and tolerance, but with so many speakers with such troubling histories of spreading anti-Israel disinformation, and even overt antisemitism, there are major concerns about this convention.

As such, Canadian elected officials and members of the Canadian news media must speak out against any gathering of voices with such a dark history of spreading disinformation and hatred.

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