Newmarket Muslim Cleric Hate
Muslim cleric draws fire from JDL leader
By RON CSILLAG
Special to The CJN
NEWMARKET — Zafar Bangash, the controversial Muslim cleric who’s involved in a proposed new mosque here, is “far more dangerous” than Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel, a Jewish activist told a town hall-style meeting of concerned citizens here on Sunday night.
Zundel, currently serving a jail term in Germany for denying the Holocaust, “is a pipsqueak compared to Zafar Bangash,” Meir Weinstein, national president of the Toronto-based Jewish Defence League, told about 35 people at a local hotel who came to hear concerns about Bangash, an imam and president of the Islamic Society of York Region.
“He wants an Islamic state in Canada,” Weinstein added. “We have a problem here.”
Bangash, an imam at a Richmond Hill mosque, has been a hot topic in York Region in the past few weeks for his involvement in Newmarket’s first mosque, which has been approved by the town’s council.
The founder of the publication Crescent International, Bangash has praised Iran’s fundamentalist regime and has reprinted statements from Palestinian terrorists.
Some Newmarket residents have expressed fear that Bangash will have direct ties to the Mulock Drive mosque, where he would continue to spread his radical views, possibly from the pulpit.
But mosque members have said Bangash will have nothing to do with running their place of worship and have distanced themselves from his views.
Weinstein vowed that pressure will continue until the congregation concedes that Bangash’s opinions are “repulsive and inhumane.”
“He’s on record [as] supporting the Iranian regime, supporting Hezbollah,” said Weinstein, who, until recently, was known publicly as Meir Halevi. “If, God forbid, his vision of an Islamic state comes to fruition, or close to fruition in Canada, we’re doomed.”
Weinstein, who helped organize the event, called “House of Worship or House of Terror,” said “we have no problem with a mosque. But we do have a problem with an individual who makes certain statements, and we take them very seriously. Because we learned our lessons from the past that not to take such statements seriously could lead to the destruction of millions.”
He said he had “just got off the phone” with “someone” at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), who said Bangash is being “monitored” by the spy agency.
Panelist John Thompson, president of the Mackenzie Institute, said that to “challenge the presence of a radical Islamic cleric is not racism. It’s your civic obligation. You shouldn’t be afraid to protest before they [radical Muslims] do lasting harm that we’ll all regret.”
Thompson told the Toronto Star that had he known Weinstein would be on the panel, he would have “called in with the flu.”
Bangash is “a clear and present danger” to Canadian security, stated speaker Ron Banerjee, director of the Hindu Conference of Canada.
He accused the imam of “preaching genocide against Hindus and the West.”
The community “must not take [mosque members] at their word that Bangash will be working in the background,” Banerjee stated.
Weinstein later found himself on the defensive, fending off questions about the Jewish Defence League’s own violent past. The FBI has labelled the JDL “a right-wing terrorist group,” but Weinstein said the Canadian wing is “independent” from the one in the United States.
Meanwhile, Newmarket Mayor Tony Van Bynen last week hosted the inaugural meeting of the town’s interfaith council at Or Hadash synagogue on Leslie Street. Statements of tolerance and understanding were read in area churches on Sunday.
WORD FAITH INDEX
CATHOLIC CHURCH INDEX