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Toronto: Is Iran Trying to Mobilize the Shiite Community?

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Firas Al Najim used his microphone, which he hooked up to the Toronto Jaffari Centre's loud speaker system to spew hate (Photo: YouTube)
Firas Al Najim used his microphone, which he hooked up to the Toronto Jaffari Centre’s loud speaker system to spew hate (Photo: YouTube)

As the world holds its breath anticipating a second wave of the coronavirus, in my opinion the second wave of radicalization and extremism will come from the Shiites and be directed against Israel and the U.S.

In Toronto, it started with the death of Iranian arch-terrorist Qasem Soleimani. Majalis (gatherings) were held in Shiite mosques to commemorate and “give blessings” to the soul of Soleimani.

He was described as being a martyr for Islam, and the lectures were in Persian, Arabic and Urdu to obscure the message to the general public.

Then came the Islamist push to have the azaan (call to prayer) broadcast publicly during the month of Ramadan, the Islamic month that just ended.

Finally, an incident occurred at one of the largest Shiite mosques in Toronto. On May 16, Firas Al Najim used the mosque’s loudspeaker system to issue the call to prayer outside the Jaffari Islamic Centre in Thornhill, Ontario. While he had the mike, he used the opportunity to give a speech calling upon Muslims to refrain from doing any business transactions with “Zionists.”

Al Najim said:

“We want to speak also about an important fact. We need to pray for the Palestinian people in the Holy Land. And this centre here [the Jaffari Islamic Centre], the majority of the followers, they follow Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, Ayatollah al-Sistani …

And he [Sistani] is totally against the occupation of Palestine, he is against the illegitimate Zionist regime. He [Sistani] calls for the liberation of the holy Palestine and also for boycotting all the Zionist businesses.

He said that it is illegal it is forbidden for any Muslim, especially the followers that follow him, to do any business transaction with any Zionist business, and this is on his website …”

A video of the incident was also released on YouTube.

Al Najim is the co-manager of an organization called Canadian Defenders for Human Rights (CD4HR), an anti-Israel organization (as can be seen his Twitter video promoting the organization’s “walkagainstIsrael” protest).

The day following the mosque rant, May 17, Thornhill MPP Gila Martow issued the following statement:

“Many have contacted me concerned about a recent online video showing a gentleman outside the Jaffari Islamic Community Centre in Thornhill Woods.

I am disappointed that this gentleman used his alleged permission from the City of Vaughan to spew anti-Zionist propaganda and anti-Semitic tropes with no regard for the vast majority of Vaughan residents who support living together in peace.

It is equally unfortunate that he would use a prayer for victims of COVID-19 to promote intolerance and misinformation about international legal issues.

I certainly hope that this gentleman’s message of intolerance and misinformation is not shared by the membership and families of the Jaffari Centre. I look forward to meaningful dialogue with them in the near future.”

Martow’s statement was followed by a statement the following day, May 18, by a press release from the vice president of the Jaffari Centre in which he claimed that Al Najim is not associated with the mosque. He further expressed concern about Martow’s statement, claiming that “does not know the individual [Al Najim],” even though last year he co-signed a letter written by Al Najim to the prime minister. There was no denunciation of Al Najim’s message in the the Jaffari Centre’s statement.

A full-court press led by CAIR-Canada (who now call themselves the National Council of Canadian Muslims, or NCCM) followed to discredit Martow and demand she issue an apology.

“As would have been abundantly clear if MPP Martow had endeavoured to undertake the appropriate diligence that a reasonable person would have expected by actually calling the Jaffari Community Centre, she would have been immediately informed that this video and message was made by someone who had no authorization to do so,” said Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM.

Not surprisingly, on May 19, the very next day, a joint statement was issued by NCCM, the Jaffari Centre and Martow in which they say that they had a “meaningful dialogue.”

The statement further said,

MPP Martow wishes to thank the representatives of NCCM and ISIJ [the Jaffari Centre] for their understanding and willingness to confront intolerance. She also commits to contacting representatives of the organizations directly should any further unfortunate incidents occur, and apologizes for any hurt she caused to the community of the Jaffari Community Centre [my emphasis].

Even though Canada officially severed its ties with Iran in 2012, it is very clear from this incident that there is a very strong presence of Iranian influence among the Canadian Shiite population.

 

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Raheel Raza

Raheel Raza is a spokesperson for Clarion Project and of president of Muslims Facing Tomorrow.

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