Written by: Ali Naqvi, Ali Visram, Hassain Zaidi, Maysum Allibhai, Ali Al Ashtar & John Philpot*
In a February 11 press release, B’nai Brith accused Imam Ali Centre in Toronto of “praising terrorist leaders”. Based on this allegation, it called on the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to take “corrective action”.
B’nai Brith has for years made similar allegations against individuals and organizations that have spoken out against the Zionist apartheid regime and in support of the oppressed people of Palestine.
We believe this is an attempt to bully the intended victims into silence.
Such bullying has been successful when the accused do not understand their rights. By giving in to fear-mongering bullying tactics, they capitulate to such demands.
We believe B’nai Brith’s demands of the CRA have not yielded any results because the agency follows the law, not the whims of a pro-Israel lobby group.
Its false allegations have led some Canadians to lodge lawsuits in courts.
Such threats are intended to silence critics of Israeli policies.
Succumbing to fear or allowing blackmailing tactics to dictate people’s morals and actions is not the proper way to live as free people.
B’nai Brith’s slander about a “terrorist leader” being glorified must be challenged.
General Qasem Soleimani was not a terrorist but a leader who fought terrorism.
He was invited by the governments where he was actively engaged against terrorist groups such as ISIS, defending innocent civilians, including millions of members of minority communities, whether Christians, Shi‘is or Yazidis.
That is why he was mourned by tens of millions of people when he was assassinated at Baghdad airport in a cowardly manner by Donald Trump. It constituted a war crime.
He was on an official visit to Iraq, at the invitation of the government carrying a message to potentially extend an olive branch to the Saudis.
It is supremely ironic that a high official of a sovereign state on official visit to another country is murdered by the ruler of a third country whose forces are illegally occupying that country and then call the murder victim a terrorist.
History offers many examples where oppressors and tyrants have accused their opponents as terrorists. This is an attempt to delegitimize the struggle of the oppressed.
Apartheid South Africa and its backers had used the same label for the late Nelson Mandela, an icon of the freedom struggle and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Opposition to tyranny is never tolerated by tyrants.
Nelson Mandela and his political party, the African National Congress (ANC) were placed on a list of key regional terrorist groups by the US government in 1988, a designation that was only lifted in 2008, years after the fall of apartheid in South Africa.
Although Canada did not do the same, the government banned some members of the ANC from entering Canada. This was only lifted in 2012.
When Imam Ali Centre commemorated the lives of General Qasem Soleimani and Abu Mahdi Al Mohandes, they were celebrating their religious values of standing up for the oppressed against the tyrants of the world.
This is a fundamental value of the Islamic faith, and indeed of humanity at large, regardless of people’s faith.
Such an act is not the promotion of any political party or agenda but an expression of the right to celebrate our values.
To muzzle this expression of faith is a political act discriminating against those that support the oppressed and is vehemently against the values enshrined in Canadian Charter of Rights and against universally accepted human values.
It is interesting to note that B’nai Brith calls itself a human rights organization yet support a political entity likened to an apartheid state by its own human rights organizations.
Their website unashamedly promotes themselves as “a staunch defender of the state of Israel”.
This same state has been called “reminiscent of the South African (apartheid) regime” by The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, B’Tselem, in a recent report titled “A regime of Jewish supremacy from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”
B’Tselem emphasized that there are vastly different laws in many critical aspects of life under the colonial occupation depending on whether you are Jewish or non-Jewish and clarified that “the Israeli regime does not have to declare itself an apartheid regime to be defined as such, nor is it relevant that representatives of the state broadly proclaim it a democracy. What defines apartheid is not statements but practice.”
Should opponents of the Israeli apartheid regime that operate within the realm of international law, be labelled as terrorists as was done with anti-apartheid strugglers?
The Nelson Mandelas of our time cannot be besmirched and vilified by mudslinging. Freedom to resist oppression is a fundamental right of all human beings.
*Ali Naqvi, Ali Visram, Hassain Zaidi, Maysum Allibhai and Ali Al Ashtar are representatives of the Canadian Resistance Against Injustice. John Philpot is a senior criminal litigation attorney and is a member of the Barreau du Québec since 1984. He has practiced Criminal Law in Montreal since 1984 and International Criminal Law since 1998.