Toronto business owner donates $25,000 to confront hate in Canada
Announcement comes fresh on the heels of apology by local anti-Muslim activist
Canadian Anti-Hate Network
Mohamad Fakih (left) presenting Bernie Farber with $25,000.
(Toronto - Monday, Dec. 17, 2018) Mohamad Fakih, owner of Paramount Fine Foods, is donating $25,000 to the Canadian Anti-Hate Network today.
The donation will bring the network closer towards its first major fundraising goal – to hire an additional full time investigator to monitor and report on hate groups in Canada.
The donation comes just as Mr. Fakih received an apology from Ron Banerjee, a regular presence and bit-player in the anti-Muslim movement in Toronto.
In August 2017, blogger Kevin J. Johnston and Ron Banerjee made videos in front of Paramount Fine Foods during an anti-Muslim demonstration and made comments that were overtly hateful towards Muslims and specifically targeted Fakih and his business.
Fakih launched a defamation suit against both individuals, resulting in an apology from Banerjee.
“I am grateful that I was able to confront this hatred, though it has taken a significant emotional toll," says Fakih. "Not everyone is able to do what I felt I needed to do. It is for this reason that I will be marking this moment by further supporting efforts to combat hate in Canada. We need to protect our rights and freedoms so that everyone can fully contribute without fear of discrimination or hatred.”
“We are immensely grateful for this generous donation. This donation will help us to do even more critical work in calling out those who fuel hatred and division in our communities,” says Bernie M. Farber, Chair of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network and former CEO of the Canadian Jewish Congress.
“Mr. Fakih demonstrated a true sense of courage and civic responsibility. In standing up to this virulent Islamophobia, Mr. Fakih spoke out on behalf of all who have suffered racism, bigotry and hatred. He made it clear that anyone promoting hatred can and will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law."
“We’re all in this together.”
"We are pushing for new tools to hold individuals who spread hate propaganda responsible for their actions," says Evan Balgord, Executive Director of CAN. "That hard work should not always fall on the shoulders of the targets of hate and defamation."
The suit against Kevin J. Johnston, a blogger who makes videos targeting Muslims, women and LGBTQ+ persons, continues. Johnston is also facing a separate criminal charge for the wilful promotion of hate.
To see the Mr. Banerjee's apology to Mr. Fakih, click here.
For further inquiries, please contact:
Evan Balgord, email@example.com
Bernie M. Farber, firstname.lastname@example.org
Ron Banerjee represents RISE Canada - the same 'group' that at one time included Jennifer Bush, the woman who heckled Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and later went viral for yelling at Jagmeet Singh. RISE Canada is, however, largely a one-man group of Ron Banerjee.
Banerjee identifies as a Hindu nationalist and is a regular presence at the near-monthly anti-Muslim demonstrations in Toronto alongside groups like the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, Jewish Defence League, and the III%ers, an anti-Muslim self-styled militia group.
Banerjee has been active for years, and for a fuller history of his actions, visit https://anti-racistcanada.blogspot.com/search?q=banerjee
Mayor Dale Bumstead
MLA Mike Bernier
MP Bob Zimmer
Dawson Creek RCMP
We represent the Canadian Anti-Hate Network (antihate.ca), a non-profit organization which monitors hate groups and their activities in Canada. We deliver information to the public and media and we provide information and evidence to law enforcement, and have done so on several criminal investigations across Canada.
Our advisory group is made up of Canada’s leading experts on hate groups and hate crimes, including human rights lawyers, academics, journalists, court-recognized experts, and leaders in targeted communities.
We are writing you this public letter today because we are deeply concerned by reports that the Soldiers of Odin are active in your community, engaging in volunteerism and participating in civic events, seemingly with the tacit acceptance or support of some public officials.
The Soldiers of Odin are an anti-Muslim hate group. They were founded in Finland by a self-identifying neo-Nazi who has been found guilty of racially motivated assault. It’s well documented that the Canadian organization has attracted white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
Several political parties and figures in Canada have disavowed the support of the Soldiers of Odin, like the United Conservative Party in Alberta. Others have found associating with the Soldiers of Odin to be a setback to their political aspirations. There is a growing recognition of what the group represents.
The statement by the RCMP that the Soldiers of Odin are not a concern is incorrect. The Canadian Anti-Hate Network and others have documented overtly racist statements targeting Muslims and other groups, and posts celebrating or encouraging violence.
Whether the local chapter engages in these behaviours is besides the point – you wouldn’t welcome a chapter of the Ku Klux Klan in your backyard even if they were doing garbage pickups and promised never to burn a cross. By using the same name, engaging in volunteerism, and finding the tacit acceptance of prominent figures in your community, they are whitewashing the Soldiers of Odin brand Canada-wide.
We call on you to send a strong message that you do not support hate groups such as the Soldiers of Odin operating in your community, and that they will not be part of any community policing plan.
Bernie Farber, Chair
Richard Warman, Board Member
Amira Elghawaby, Board Member
Evan Balgord, Executive Director
Police reported hate crimes increase nearly 50 per cent in 2017 - but that's just the tip of the iceberg
The police only report a small fraction of actual hate crimes to Statistics Canada
November 29, 2018
Evan Balgord & Amira Elghawaby
M103, the motion against Islamophobia, was a lightning rod for an anti-Muslim
street movement that firmly established itself in 2017. Source: Twitter.
The 2017 police reported hate crime statistics have been released. They show an increase in hate crimes across the board compared to 2016 with a larger increase in hate crimes targeting Muslims, Blacks, and Arabs. Every year the release of these statistics generates media stories and opinion pieces - almost always without reflecting the serious methodological issues with the statistics.
To us in the field, these statistics are an indication of something we already know and can be a way to share that knowledge with the public. Hate groups and dogwhistle politics have further normalized racist and hateful attitudes that create an increase in everyday bigotry, overt hate, and violence towards our neighbours. However, we know the bad data underestimates the size of the problem.
According to research by Dr. Barbara Perry and Sabreena Ghaffar-Siddiqui, two of Canada's leading researchers on hate crime, there are systemic issues in how these numbers are collected and reported by law enforcement.
First – hate crime or a hate incident? Hate incidents are noncriminal harassment, while hate crimes must contain an element of criminality independent from the hate motivation. Some jurisdictions will take reports of both – others only take reports of hate crimes.
Over two thirds of victims of hate crimes don’t report to police. In some communities – and particularly among newer migrants – this number can be as high as 85 per cent.
Those that do report to police are sometimes discouraged from filing a report - in examples we've heard, either because it's not criminal (a hate incident) or because the officer doesn't believe they will be able to find the perpetrator and suggests to the victim that reporting is a waste of time. If the responding officer takes their report, the officer has to have to have the training to recognize an incident as a hate crime and tick a box on a form. In some jurisdictions, there will be another level of review which may remove the hate crime designation if there isn’t sufficient evidence (note: not disproving the incident, but not having the evidence to state it as fact either).
The cases that remain are stuck in limbo. If there is sufficient evidence to indicate the incident occurred and to move forward with an investigation, that case will be reflected in the numbers law enforcement pass to Statistics Canada. If the investigation isn’t going anywhere, it may not be included in the numbers. This process isn’t the same in every jurisdiction and the patchwork nature of hate crime training and reporting is another issue.
The result? Only a tiny proportion of hate crimes are reflected in the police reported statistics.
Then there are the issues of classification. For example, there are multiple categories an anti-Muslim hate crime can be coded as – racially based (eg. Arab) or based on religion (eg. Muslim). The system forces officers to make very subjective judgement calls - for example, race or religion, pick one - but bigots and racists often don’t draw these distinctions. In the United States, a Sikh man was killed in ‘retaliation’ shortly after 9/11. Often, brown skin is enough. Or consider this example – a swastika is scrawled over a poster of a woman in hijab. How should that be coded? Antisemitic, anti-woman (part of the 'other motivation' category), anti-Arab, anti-Muslim, or all of the above?
Since newer immigrant communities are less likely to report, and classification difficulties dilute the statistics further for groups and people with intersectional identities, some communities – like the Muslim community - are very likely underrepresented in the statistics.
We have a much better tool – in 2014 Statistics Canada did a survey on victimization as part of the General Social Survey. This self-report has its own methodological flaws but it’s the best tool we have, and suggests far higher levels of hate crimes across Canada.
That survey is scheduled to be repeated for release in 2019.
We need an audit and standardization of police-reported hate crimes. However, there is a more immediate solution. If we want a better measure of hate crimes in Canada, Statistics Canada should add additional questions and do the victimization survey every year.
Anti-Muslim blogger facing hate crime charge ran for mayor of Mississauga and came in second place
Kevin J. Johnston’s next court date is later this month
November 8, 2018
Kevin J. Johnston selling Faith Goldy for mayor t-shirts.
Elections in Ontario last month drew international media attention to the failed candidacy of Faith Goldy, a self-proclaimed propagandist for the alt-right neo-Nazi movement. Although she ended the Toronto mayoral race in distant third place, she received more than 25,000 votes, or 3.4 per cent of the total ballots cast.
In nearby Mississauga, Canada’s sixth largest city, anti-Muslim blogger Kevin J. Johnston came second in the mayoral race, securing 13.5 per cent of the vote — despite facing a hate crime charge.
For many, Johnston may have been the default protest vote against Mayor Bonnie Crombie. The third-place candidate received less than 4 per cent of the vote.
Police charged Johnston in June 2017 with wilful promotion of hatred against Muslims following a five-month investigation. The case is still before the courts. If convicted, he could face up to two years in prison.
Johnston’s record of anti-Muslim activism goes back several years.
In 2015, he led a racist campaign against a proposed mosque in Mississauga. On his website StopTheMosque.com, Johnston claimed without evidence that the Meadowvale Islamic Centre would lead to an increase in vandalism and sexual assaults, and that the mosque’s presence would erode free speech and women’s rights. He published an article on his website in 2016 baselessly accusing Muslim high school students of widespread sexual assault against their classmates and inciting Mississauga residents to “take the law into your own hands.”
Johnston publishes daily videos on his website, where he has called for violence and harassment against Muslims. In early 2017, he offered a $1,000 bounty for videos of Muslim children praying in Peel Region schools. In another video, according to the Toronto Star, Johnston said it was time to “take our masculinity back and beat the living hell out of Muslims.”
“Pin them down on the ground, and beat them until they pass out. And when they’re passed out, you beat them further; and when they’re on the ground passed out, kick them, break a kneecap, break an elbow, press their hands backwards turn their wrists sideways, start breaking these guys down,” Johnston said in the video.
Leila Nasr, the communications coordinator for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, said such quotes underline how disturbing it is that Johnston received 16,079 votes for mayor.
“Mississauga is an incredibly diverse community with a significant Muslim population, which makes the vile sentiments expressed by Mr. Johnston even more concerning to us,” Nasr told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network. “Like many in the community we are very troubled that these elements not only exist, but have increased in prominence so quickly.”
Johnston also regularly attacks women, the LGBTQ+ community, and others. His videos rarely receive more than a few hundreds views online, and his crowdfunded Patreon account receives a paltry $31 a month from supporters. Johnston has appeared on Rebel Media shows and until at least December of 2017, he co-hosted a YouTube series called Rebel Yell with Rebel correspondent David Menzies. He has also been a guest on the far-right conspiracy outlet InfoWars.
Johnston previously ran for mayor of Mississauga in 2014, when he came in 11th place with 741 votes, comprising 0.5% of the final tally. His second-place finish last month marks a dramatic increase in support.
Johnston’s campaign appeared to downplay his inflammatory views. On his campaign website, Johnston listed housing, crime, and transportation issues as some of his top priorities. Johnston claims he would have won if the media covered his campaign. He was not invited to the main election debate, held at the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. The Mississauga News published an op-ed by Johnston about his campaign that didn’t mention his hate crime charge and ran without any sort of editorial note.
In an interview with the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Johnston said that while his campaign website highlighted local issues, he did not hide his views about Islam and other social issues during private conversations with Mississauga voters. He claims to have taken part in over 100 public speaking engagements.
Unlike in 2014, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie did not face an established opponent in the election and won re-election with 77% of the vote, suggesting Johnston benefited as the default alternative or protest vote against the incumbent from voters who may not have been aware of his record.
“In the better part of 15,000 people I spoke to over the course of five months,” says Johnston, “everyone said the same thing - they hate Bonnie Crombie - they just didn’t know who the alternative was.”
Johnston continues to produce videos targeting Muslims, LGBTQ+ persons and others and said he plans to run more political campaigns in the future, as well as finish a documentary that denies Myanmar is carrying out a campaign of what the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights called “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing" against the country’s Muslim Rohingya minority. Johnston was allowed into the country to work on this ‘documentary’, escorted by military handlers, while Reuters journalists were imprisoned.
Johnston livestreamed our interview on his Youtube and Facebook channels. In the same video he says that “LGBTQ laws” would legalize the rape of four-year-olds by adult men. At other points in the interview and his subsequent monologue, Johnston said Islam is not a religion but a political ideology, and that he refuses to eat halal meat or fly on airplanes with Muslim pilots. In response to a viewer question, he encouraged parents to train their children to respond to bullying with extreme violence such as breaking bones, adding that the children’s criminal records would be expunged at age 18 anyway. In arguing for the superiority of “Western culture,” Johnston said: "African culture right now is to just walk around the country and kill white people. Rape them first, then kill them second." He described new immigrants from Muslim-majority countries as violent “psychopaths.”
"We have imported 100,000 psychopaths into this country and they're going to choke you, they're going to hit your kids, they're going to lift your daughters' skirts up and grab their asses," Johnston said.
Johnston says his lawyer was recently in court to receive disclosure from the crown regarding the hate crime charge and that there will be another court date at the end of November to review that disclosure.
Asked about the election result, Mississauga Mayor Crombie said the city remains a place where diversity is respected: “I think we can all be more vigilant to call out hate and discrimination and to better vet our candidates for office.”
"A Toronto judge has reserved his decision in the case of a former paralegal accused of advocating genocide and promoting hatred in email and on the internet, including an open Twitter account.
Rupen Balaram-Sivaram has pleaded not guilty to 10 charges, including the rare charge of advocating genocide. The charges stem in part from a series of hateful social media posts and emails he allegedly sent to public figures and media organizations that call for death to Jews, homosexuals, Westerners and Christians.
. . .
In her written submissions, [Crown attorney Kim] Motyl wrote that Balaram-Sivaram’s 'entire social media footprint is riddled with evidence of his belief that those of Jewish descent and homosexuals should be exterminated. Further, his hard devices — his computer, two USB drives and his cellphone are likewise full of such sentiment.'"
The United Conservative Party and the Soldiers of Odin
Controversy in Alberta sparked by UCP nomination candidates posing for a photograph with the Soldiers of Odin, an anti-Muslim group with ties to neo-Nazism. Here's what you need to know.
October 23, 2018
UCP candidates pose with Edmonton-based Soldiers of Odin on Oct 5. Source: Facebook.
United Conservative Party nomination candidates were photographed at an early October pub night in Edmonton with members of the Soldiers of Odin, a militant anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant group.
The Soldiers of Odin was originally founded in Finland by Mika Ranta, who has a conviction for a racially-motivated assault and self-identifies as a neo-Nazi, according to The Times of Israel.
In Canada, the Soldiers of Odin have leaders and members with demonstrated ties to white supremacy and neo-Nazism. The organization splintered throughout 2017, but chapters with dozens of members are still in operation.
The UCP pub night was held at Brown’s Social House in Edmonton on Oct. 5. In attendance were three UCP candidates running for the party’s nomination in the Edmonton-West Henday constituency who posed for photos with Soldiers of Odin members wearing branded Soldiers of Odin shirts, hats, and vests.
Two of the candidates have since said they were also unaware that members of an extremist group had attended the pub night.
“Had we known at the time, we certainly would not have had our pictures taken with these individuals,” Nicole Williams and Leila Houle said in a joint statement.
The third candidate in the race, Lance Coulter, was disqualified by the party for defending the Soldiers of Odin, saying he was aware of their white supremacist views but found them “polite” and “cordial” at the event. In a Facebook post on his campaign page, Coulter accused Williams and Houle of lying in their statement.
"I was disqualified because I refused to lie when the party asked me to, unlike the two other candidates," he wrote in a Facebook post.
The UCP constituency association condemned the views of the Soldiers of Odin and said party representatives would have asked them to leave had they known what "S.O.O." represented. UCP Leader Jason Kenney described the Soldiers of Odin’s appearance at the party function as an act of “political mischief.”
The UCP has blamed the appearance of the Soldiers of Odin on Dave Bjorkman, an organizer for the fringe Alberta Independence Party. However, Bjorkman also appears to be a UCP member, based on screenshots of emails he shared on Facebook which included his membership number and an invitation to the pub night. The party did not respond to questions from the Canadian Anti-Hate Network.
"This is not an isolated incident," says Alberta NDP Premier Rachel Notley, who attributes the incident to UCP's dog-whistle politics.
The Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton whose members attended the UCP pub night announced it was renaming itself the Canadian Infidels. A spokesperson for the group told the Canadian Anti-Hate Network the group will continue its activism, including street patrols. They claim the Canadian Infidels are open to everyone, and that it is a "pro-Canadian" group that stands against terrorism. On its Facebook page, the group continues to share anti-Muslim and anti-immigration messages.
A different Soldiers of Odin group in Edmonton continues to operate as the ‘Soldiers of Odin’ and disavows any connection with the rebranded splinter group.
"Experts say Canadians should also be concerned about the rise of hate groups in this country. There are at minimum 130 active right-wing extremist groups across Canada according to Dr. Barbara Perry, an expert on hate crime — a 30 per cent increase from 2015.
Most of these groups are organized around ideologies against religion and race — with anti-Muslim and anti-Jewish sentiments being the most common, followed by hate against immigrants, Indigenous people, women, LGBTQ communities and other minorities.
. . .
[Evan Balgord, Executive Director of the Canadian Anti-Hate Network,] says the radicalization process happens quickly and that people typically go from consuming hate material online to organizing offline. Balgord says they are increasingly involved in mainstream politics. 'Now we’re seeing in terms of real-life organizing, they are coming out to support Faith Goldy’s campaign for mayor of Toronto. They are also excited by Maxime Bernier’s party,' he shares."
Controversial progressive activist Linda Sarsour is scheduled to speak at the Carry The Light convention on October 6-7.
To be clear, many of Sarsour’s critics operate in bad faith and some claims against her are based in truth but have been exaggerated – others conflate the separate but converging issues of anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network believes Linda Sarsour’s invitation to the Carry The Light convention may cause harm to the relationship between the Jewish/LGBTQ+ and Muslim communities of Canada. Her record demonstrates why.
In 2015, Sarsour spoke at the Justice Or Else! rally organized by antisemitic and anti-LGBTQ+ hate preacher Louis Farrakhan. In 2017 she commented “god bless him” on Instagram.
Her co-organizers of the Women’s March have been more expressive in their support for Farrakhan. Under criticism, the Women’s March offered a denouncement of antisemitism and Farrakhan’s comments. Some were critical that it didn’t outright condemn Farrakhan and therefore say the statement didn’t go far enough.
Farrakhan preaches using classical antisemitic tropes aligning Jews with Satan, suggesting that Jews control banks, media, etc. His group, the Nation of Islam, is listed as an extremist group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. For more on Farrakhan, see: https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/nation-islam.
The Canadian Anti-Hate Network is concerned that inviting Linda Sarsour to speak in the absence of evidence that she has distanced herself from Farrakhan's hateful rhetoric is inconsistent with the Carry The Light's goal of "inspiring Muslims to implement the true spirit of Islam in their lives," and contrary to the values consistent with promoting inclusive communities where hatred is clearly unwelcome.
Faith Goldy is a prominent member of the alt-right movement who associates with neo-Nazis and promotes their ideology.
She is running to be Mayor of Toronto, endorsed by the alt-right neo-Nazi movement in Canada, who volunteer for her.
After a campaign by the Canadian Anti-Hate Network, Bell and Rogers made the principled decision not to run her advertisements.
Goldy took Bell to court to try to get an injunction and had her case thrown out, wasting $50,000.
The evidence that Faith Goldy is deep in the alt-right neo-Nazi movement is extensive. For example:
Goldy has said the infamous Fourteen Words on air, a neo-Nazi slogan coined by the neo-Nazi group The Order, which murdered a Jewish radio host. She continues to defend her use of the Fourteen Words.
She appeared on The Krypto Report, a neo-Nazi podcast associated with the Daily Stormer, one of the most popular alt-right neo-Nazi sites which often refers to Jews as “Hooknosed kikes” and is currently running a banner image calling itself the “#1 rape-legalization website.” The leaked style guide instructs authors that “All enemies should be combined into one enemy, which is the Jews.”
She said that the alt-right Charlottesville manifesto, including its position on the JQ (Jewish Question; that Jews don’t count as white people to the alt-right neo-Nazi movement), was well thought out.
David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, tweeted her video on Charlottesville.
She's called for Canada to return to being a 96% white, European country.
As a point of analysis, given the current demographics of Canada, discriminatory birth policies and ending nonwhite immigration isn't sufficient to reach a 96 per cent white country. It would require mass deportations and mass murder.
She's already been banned from the fundraising site Patreon and a number of other platforms for spreading hate.
Her activism also targets the Muslim community, and she has called for another crusade in the Middle East.
She endorsed For My Legionaries, a pro-fascist book dealing extensively with "the Jewish menace" and eliminating the Jews. (She later claimed she never read the book).
She has referred to herself as a "propaganda arm" for the alt-right movement in a livestreamed broadcast with Roosh V, an infamous misogynist.
Updated 2018-10-18 with additional information.
Canadian Anti-Hate Network chair Bernie Farber calls on Doug Ford to renounce alt-right candidate who associates with neo-Nazis.
"On Saturday, Faith Goldy, in the race for Toronto mayor, well-known for embracing and supporting white supremacist views, turned up at the Ford Fest BBQ in Vaughan. Following a photo-op with the premier, a scandal ensued as Ford refused to renounce Goldy, her white nationalist views and support to neo-Nazis when asked to do so in the legislature by the NDP."
"Ford has condemned hate speech but refuses to renounce Goldy by name and her associations. His words do not live up to his actions. Canadians still expect decency and leadership from those we put in office. Ford can still make this right, but not until he fully dissociates himself from those like Faith Goldy and their vile ideas."