Toronto Police have launched an investigation into whether alleged hate speech was preached by two speakers at the Masjid Toronto mosque in 2016.
“With a complaint filed, there is now an investigation,” Toronto Police spokesman Mark Pugash confirmed Wednesday.
In addition to the police investigation, the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) has also opened its own internal investigation.
Police are also investigating hate crime complaints against people protesting in front of the downtown mosque Friday.
But media allegations suggesting people could be spewing hate speech while protesting such things as Sharia Law, ISIS and beheadings, prompted former Israeli intelligence colonel Jonathan Halevi to dig up shocking translated sermons from two imams during 2016’s Ramadan observance.
The sermons included things such as the need to “purify” the Dome of Rock mosque in Jerusalem of the “filth of the Jews” and slaying non-believers, infidels and polytheists.
“The double standard and hypocrisy was appalling,” said Halevi, who alleges the hate was happening inside the mosque — not outside.
The mosque, and one of the speakers, has repeatedly apologized.
And MAC also temporarily suspended a mosque employee while the probes are underway.
“We condemn all forms of discrimination and intolerance to any faith group,” MAC spokesman Memona Hossain told the Toronto Sun. “We take this incident very seriously and we are working to rectify it and ensure it doesn’t happen at all in future.”
Meanwhile, MAC is also investigating and said in a release “we have also reached out to leaders in the Jewish community to express our sincere apology for this incident, and to continue the dialogue between our communities.”
The Jewish Defence League (JDL), which filed the police complaint, says it is not ready to accept an apology at this point and wants more information on what is behind these sermons.
“We want police to conduct its investigation and look thoroughly into what is going on inside of the mosque” and “into its outside affiliations,” said Meir Weinstein, JDL’s national co-ordinator, who turned over two videos and other evidence to a detective at 32 Division.
The JDL and B’nai Brith Canada has also asked Ryerson University to begin a probe of one of its teaching faculty, the suspended mosque employee who is a PhD student.
Ryerson has not yet returned calls.
“There is no place for someone who describes Jews as ‘filth’ as a teaching assistant at a Canadian university, especially when this anti-Semitism is disguised as pious religious expression,” said Aidan Fishman, of B’nai Brith Canada. “We have notified Ryerson about Mr. Ayman Elkasrawy’s comments and expect them to take swift action.”
Meanwhile, the JDL has told MAC “in the interest of diversity and Canadian values, the Jewish Defence League is asking that you postpone your open house scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 25, pending the police investigation.”
But Hossain said as of Wednesday night, the open house was still on but there is a sincere effort underway to repair this situation and respond appropriately. “We take this incident very seriously and we are working to rectify it and ensure it doesn’t happen at all in future.”
As for the start of an investigation, she said, they work with police regularly and will “co-operate as needed.”
Pugash said a thorough investigation will now commence.