Delete Hate Speech or Pay Up, Germany Tells Social Media Companies – The New York Times

Will be interesting to see the degree to which this works in making social media companies take more effective action, as well as the means that companies take to ‘police’ speech (see earlier post Facebook’s secret rules mean that it’s ok to be anti-Islam, but not anti-gay | Ars Technica). Apart from the debate over what can/should be any limits to free speech, there are risks in “outsourcing” this function to the private sector:

Social media companies operating in Germany face fines of as much as $57 million if they do not delete illegal, racist or slanderous comments and posts within 24 hours under a law passed on Friday.

The law reinforces Germany’s position as one of the most aggressive countries in the Western world at forcing companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter to crack down on hate speech and other extremist messaging on their digital platforms.

But the new rules have also raised questions about freedom of expression. Digital and human rights groups, as well as the companies themselves, opposed the law on the grounds that it placed limits on individuals’ right to free expression. Critics also said the legislation shifted the burden of responsibility to the providers from the courts, leading to last-minute changes in its wording.

Technology companies and free speech advocates argue that there is a fine line between policy makers’ views on hate speech and what is considered legitimate freedom of expression, and social networks say they do not want to be forced to censor those who use their services. Silicon Valley companies also deny that they are failing to meet countries’ demands to remove suspected hate speech online.

Still, German authorities pressed ahead with the legislation. Germany witnessed an increase in racist comments and anti-immigrant language after the arrival of more than a million migrants, predominantly from Muslim countries, since 2015, and Heiko Maas, the justice minister who drew up the draft legislation, said on Friday that it ensured that rules that currently apply offline would be equally enforceable in the digital sphere.

“With this law, we put an end to the verbal law of the jungle on the internet and protect the freedom of expression for all,” Mr. Maas said. “We are ensuring that everyone can express their opinion freely, without being insulted or threatened.”

“That is not a limitation, but a prerequisite for freedom of expression,” he continued.

The law will take effect in October, less than a month after nationwide elections, and will apply to social media sites with more than two million users in Germany.

It will require companies including Facebook, Twitter and Google, which owns YouTube, to remove any content that is illegal in Germany — such as Nazi symbols or Holocaust denial — within 24 hours of it being brought to their attention.

The law allows for up to seven days for the companies to decide on content that has been flagged as offensive, but that may not be clearly defamatory or inciting violence. Companies that persistently fail to address complaints by taking too long to delete illegal content face fines that start at 5 million euros, or $5.7 million, and could rise to as much as €50 million.

Every six months, companies will have to publicly report the number of complaints they have received and how they have handled them.

In Germany, which has some of the most stringent anti-hate speech laws in the Western world, a study published this year found that Facebook and Twitter had failed to meet a national target of removing 70 percent of online hate speech within 24 hours of being alerted to its presence.

The report noted that while the two companies eventually erased almost all of the illegal hate speech, Facebook managed to remove only 39 percent within 24 hours, as demanded by the German authorities. Twitter met that deadline in 1 percent of instances. YouTube fared significantly better, removing 90 percent of flagged content within a day of being notified.

Facebook said on Friday that the company shared the German government’s goal of fighting hate speech and had “been working hard” to resolve the issue of illegal content. The company announced in May that it would nearly double, to 7,500, the number of employees worldwide devoted to clearing its site of flagged postings. It was also trying to improve the processes by which users could report problems, a spokesman said.

Twitter declined to comment, while Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The standoff between tech companies and politicians is most acute in Europe, where freedom of expression rights are less comprehensive than in the United States, and where policy makers have often bristled at Silicon Valley’s dominance of people’s digital lives.

But advocacy groups in Europe have raised concerns over the new German law.

Mirko Hohmann and Alexander Pirant of the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin criticized the legislation as “misguided” for placing too much responsibility for deciding what constitutes unlawful content in the hands of social media providers.

“Setting the rules of the digital public square, including the identification of what is lawful and what is not, should not be left to private companies,” they wrote.

Even in the United States, Facebook and Google also have taken steps to limit the spread of extremist messaging online, and to prevent “fake news” from circulating. That includes using artificial intelligence to remove potentially extremist material automatically and banning news sites believed to spread fake or misleading reports from making money through the companies’ digital advertising platforms.

Report: More Than Half of Hate Crimes in U.S. Go Unreported | Time.com

Canada likely has a comparable degree of under-reporting. Interesting that this analysis does not cover religiously-motivated hate crimes:

The majority of hate crimes experienced by U.S. residents over a 12-year period were not reported to police, according to a new federal report released Thursday that stoked advocates’ concerns about ongoing tensions between law enforcement and black and Latino communities.

More than half of the 250,000 hate crimes that took place each year between 2004 and 2015 went unreported to law enforcement for a variety of reasons, according to a special report on hate crimes from the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Hate crimes were most often not reported because they were handled some other way, the report said. But people also did not come forward because they didn’t feel it was important or that police would help.

The report, based on a survey of households, is one of several studies that aim to quantify hate crimes. Its release comes as the Justice Department convenes a meeting on Thursday with local law enforcement officials and experts to discuss hate crimes, including a lack of solid data on the problem nationwide. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to speak.

The new survey shows the limits of hate crime reporting, said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism, California State University.

“Many victims don’t report hate crimes because of personal and institutional reasons,” Levin said. For example, some Latino immigrants may be reluctant to call police after an apparent hate crime for fear of deportation, he said.

Advocates fear that problem is worsening as the Trump administration ramps up immigration enforcement.

The report says Hispanics were victimized at the highest rate, followed by blacks.

“I think this report shows the kind of fear that is going on in our communities,” said Patricia Montes, executive director of the Boston-based immigrant advocacy group Centro Presente. She worries Latinos will even be more reluctant to report hate crimes in the future.

The new report said there was no significant increase in the number of hate crimes between 2004 and 2015. It cites racial bias as the top motivation, representing more than 48 percent of the cases between 2011 and 2015. Hate crimes motivated by ethnicity accounted for about 35 percent of those cases, and sexual orientation represented about 22 percent. Almost all of those surveyed said they felt they were experiencing a hate crime because of something the perpetrator said.

Law enforcement officials have long grappled with how to catalog hate crimes. While some victims’ distrust of police keeps them from coming forward, Levin said, some LGBT victims may opt not to report a hate crime for fear of losing a job or being outed to family.

Levin said many large cities are claiming they had no hate crimes — calling into question the reliability of federal hate crimes data that are based on voluntary submissions from police departments. “We have Columbus, Ohio, reporting more hate crimes than the state of Florida,” he said.

Eric Treene, the Justice Department’s special counsel for religious discrimination, lamented the lack of solid data on hate crimes during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in May, saying incomplete numbers stymie officials’ ability to fully understand the problem.

But he said the department is committed to prosecuting hate crimes, even as critics have blamed the Trump administration’s tough rhetoric and policies for a spike in such offenses. Civil rights groups said investigating and prosecuting hate crimes alone would be insufficient.

Source: Report: More Than Half of Hate Crimes in U.S. Go Unreported | Time.com

Politicians can’t let another year of hate crimes pass without action – Macleans.ca

Not really much insights in this column on the latest StatsCan hate crimes report, nor any particular startling or new recommendations. No real clarity of what government’s acting “forcefully” would entail beyond the Ontario government’s strategy and its emphasis on wider collection of race-based data to inform policy and programs.

The longer-term view shows no clear overall trend: a decline 2009-2011, an increase 2013-15. And no recognition that the recent increase may also reflect a greater willingness to report hate crimes as well as an actual increase.

While any hate crime or equivalent is an abomination, are the numbers really so high compared to the population? How do they compare to other countries?

When racial and religious groups insist discrimination is a hindrance to their success and well-being in Canada, governments must act forcefully to remove this barrier to demonstrate that mistreating someone based on their race or religion is unacceptable in contemporary Canadian society. This display of solidarity from politicians may act as a deterrent to future hate crimes and finally bring down the stubbornly high incidents of hate crimes towards Blacks and Jews, as well as the spike against Muslim Canadians.

Source: Politicians can’t let another year of hate crimes pass without action – Macleans.ca

A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada

Good to see wide coverage of the latest hate crimes report. Of interest are the comments of NCCM on the increase in the number of hate crimes against Canadian Muslims (Muslim group urges Ottawa to speed up release of hate-crime statistics):

The National Council of Canadian Muslims connected the anti-Muslim bias to a backlash over two terror attacks in Paris in 2015. But the group also singled out Conservative Party election campaigning under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

“The Canadian Muslim community bore the brunt of sinister political rhetoric surrounding the federal election, which painted Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathizers, as well as being anti-woman,” council vice-chairman Khalid Elgazzar said at a press conference on Parliament Hill.

In an interview, Mr. Elgazzar referred to Conservative pitches in favour of “snitch lines” for so-called barbaric cultural practices, as well as a ban on face veils at citizenship ceremonies.

“Words matter and those words had an impact,” he said. “There was an immediate uptick in terms of incidents of hate being reported to us.”

The Statscan data indicate that hate crimes targeting Muslims in Canada rose to 159 incidents, a 61-per-cent spike over 2014. Jewish people remain the most targeted religious minority in Canada, though reported anti-Semitic incidents declined in 2015 over the previous year, the federal agency said.

Meanwhile, the percentage of women targeted by violent hate crimes increased because of a hike in the number of victimized women in the Jewish and Muslim communities. Over all, the sharpest rise in hate crimes was in Alberta, where officials have already noted an increase in total crime due to the province’s economic downturn.

Still, the true picture of hate in Canada is probably darker than the numbers released on Tuesday suggest. Statscan said the figures “likely undercounts” the real extent of hate crime in Canada because not all crimes are reported to police.

The two-year lag in releasing the figures is problematic at a time when Muslims feel the effects of turmoil linked to global radicalization, the presence of far-right groups in the West and the anti-Muslim rhetoric adopted by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Mr. Elgazzar’s organization has received an influx of complaints about anti-Muslim incidents this year, but they won’t be reflected by Statscan until 2019, he said. The data released on Tuesday are already two years old.

“You can’t build a case without evidence, and the evidence we have is stale,” he said. “It’s 2017 and I’ll tell you we’re having a pretty rough year. But we’re only going to hear about it in 2019.”

I suspect that international news events were a more important factor than the previous government’s playing identity politics (no excuse). Another possible factor, hard if not impossible to measure, is the degree to which Canadian Muslims are more willing to report hate crimes to the police, which has been an issue in the past. Higher numbers may reflect in part better Muslim-police relations.

In terms of timelines required to produce these reports, it would be nice, and should be possible, to have a one-year time lag rather than 18 months as at present, while ensuring the necessary data integrity and consistency.

One of the better overviews, with the relevant charts (just comparing the past two years compared to my eight year comparison The Daily — Police-reported hate crimes, 2015 (with annual 2008-15 data)):

The number of hate crimes in Canada jumped five per cent in 2015 from the year before, according to a Statistic Canada report released Tuesday.

The report looked at a variety of hate-crime statistics—from crime motivations and violations to the demographics of victims and the accused.

In total, 1,362 hate-crimes were reported across the country that year. To put that in perspective, there were nearly two million criminal incidents reported to police in the same year.

An increase in hate-crimes based on religion and race

Two major factor explain the increase—an uptick in religiously-based and race-based hate crimes. Nearly 50 per cent of all hate crimes reported in Canada in 2015 were motivated by hatred of race or ethnicity.

The largest increase in religiously-based hate crimes was against Muslims (an increase of 61 per cent to 159 incidents) and Catholics (a 57 per cent increase to 55 incidents). Jewish people faced the highest level of religiously motivated hate crimes (178 incidents) despite seeing a 16 per cent drop over the two years.

Hate crimes targeting Blacks were still the highest of all racially or ethnically motivated crimes in 2015 (224 incidents), though that was down slightly from the year before.

Hate crimes targeting sexual orientation fell by nine per cent between 2014 and 2015.

Violent hate crimes also increased

Violent hate crimes increased 15 per cent from 2014 to 2015, accounting for more than two-thirds all police-reported hate crimes. The most common types of violent hate-based crimes were assaults, which jumped13 per cent from the year before, and uttering threats, up 22 per cent.

Most victims younger than 35 years old

Nearly 60 per cent of hate crime victims in 2015 were younger than 35 years old, according to the report—a similar percentage as in 2014.

When it comes to victims of hate crimes motivated by religion, however, victims were younger than the year before—people under 35 accounted for nearly 60 per cent of victims in 2015, up from around two-thirds the year before.

FINAL---Characteristics-of-hate-crime-victims,-Canada,-2015-(%)

People accused of religious hate crimes are most likely to be under 18 years old

In more than 22 per cent of religious hate crime incidents, young people aged 12 to 17 years old were the perpetrators. Meanwhile people under the age of 24 were responsible for slightly more than half of hate crimes that targeted sexual orientation.

FINAL---age-distribution-of-persons-accused-of-hate-crimes-nationally,-2015--ungrouped

In its report, StatsCan suggested that the actual number of hate crimes could be considerably higher than what it found. It estimated that in two thirds of cases of hate crime, victims don’t file complaints with police. The agency also cautioned that the reporting rates can also vary by the targeted population—for example, some demographic groups might be more willing to report than others.

Source: A closer look at the rise in hate crimes in Canada – Macleans.ca

The Daily — Police-reported hate crimes, 2015 (with annual 2008-15 data)

The annual Statistics Canada hate crimes report. Three charts to summarize the latest report in comparison with previous years. The first chart shows the total number by category:

The second shows how the percentage of hate crimes against ethnic groups has shifted over time:

Lastly, this chart shows how religiously-motivate hate crimes have shifted, with the increase of hate crimes against Muslims notable:

Hate crimes rose by 5% in Canada in 2015, largely due to an increase in incidents targeting certain religious and ethno-cultural groups, specifically the Muslim population and Arabs or West Asians. For the year, police reported 1,362 criminal incidents that were motivated by hate in Canada, 67 more than the previous year.

These findings are included in the new Juristat article “Police-reported hate crime in Canada, 2015” released today.

Police-reported hate crimes refer to criminal incidents that, upon investigation by police, are found to have been motivated by hatred toward an identifiable group, as defined in subparagraph 718.2(a)(i) of the Criminal Code of Canada. An incident may be against a person or property and may target race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, language, sex, age, mental or physical disability, among other factors. In addition, there are four specific offences listed as hate propaganda offences or hate crimes in the Criminal Code of Canada: advocating genocide, public incitement of hatred, willful promotion of hatred, and mischief motivated by hate in relation to religious property. Police determine whether or not a crime was motivated by hatred based on information gathered during the investigation and common national guidelines for record classification.

Overall, police reported 469 Criminal Code incidents in 2015 that were motivated by hatred of a religion, 40 more incidents than the previous year. These accounted for 35% of hate-motivated crimes reported in 2015.

Police-reported hate crimes targeting the Muslim population increased from 99 incidents in 2014 to 159 incidents in 2015, an increase of 61%. At the same time, the number of police-reported crimes targeting the Jewish population declined from 213 in 2014 to 178 in 2015. Hate crimes targeting the Jewish population accounted for 13% of all hate crimes, followed closely by hate crimes targeting the Muslim population (12%).

Approximately 10% of the population in Canada were part of a non-Christian religion in 2016. According to recent projections by Statistics Canada, the number of people in Canada with a non-Christian religion could almost double by 2036. Within this group, the Muslim, Hindu and Sikh faiths would see the number of their followers grow more quickly, although still representing a small portion of the population overall. In 2015, a number of police services increased outreach to ethnic groups, including Muslim communities. In addition, the National Council of Canadian Muslims made efforts to encourage reporting of hate crimes to police.

Increase in hate crimes against Arab and West Asian populations

From 2014 to 2015, the number of police-reported crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity increased 5%. Much of this increase was a result of more hate crimes targeting Arab and West Asian populations (+33%). Although down in 2015, crimes targeting Black populations remained the most common type of hate crime related to race or ethnicity (17% of all hate crimes). Overall, 48% of all police-reported hate crimes in 2015 were motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity.

National increase in hate crimes driven by more incidents being reported by police in Alberta

In all, 8 of 10 provinces reported an increase in the number of police-reported hate crimes from 2014 to 2015. The increase was most pronounced in Alberta, where police reported 193 hate crimes compared with 139 the year before (+39%). This increase was primarily driven by a higher number of police-reported crimes motivated by hatred against the Muslim population (+12 incidents), Arab or West Asian populations (+10), Black populations (+9), and the Jewish population (+8). It should be noted that Alberta also reported an overall increase in their 2015 crime statistics.

In contrast, in Ontario, which historically records close to half the total number of hate crimes in Canada (46%), the number of police-reported hate crimes declined by 5% from 2014. The decrease in Ontario was primarily driven by fewer police-reported hate crimes motivated by hatred against the Jewish religion (-30 incidents) and against the Black population (-19).

From 2014 to 2015, police-reported crime motivated by hatred against the Muslim population increased in all provinces except Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where the totals remained virtually the same.

Number of hate crime incidents grows in four of Canada’s ten largest census metropolitan areas

Chart 1  Chart 1: Police-reported hate crimes, by census metropolitan area, 2015
Police-reported hate crimes, by census metropolitan area, 2015

Chart 1: Police-reported hate crimes, by census metropolitan area, 2015

More than 80% of police-reported hate crimes in Canada occurred in census metropolitan areas (CMAs). The 10 largest CMAs in Canada, home to over half of Canada’s population, accounted for 71% of hate crimes in 2015. The three most populous CMAs of Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver together accounted for 43% of police-reported incidents in 2015.

Of the 10 largest CMAs in Canada, 4 reported more hate crimes in 2015 compared with the previous year, while 5 reported fewer such crimes. Vancouver reported the same number of incidents in 2015 as in 2014. The largest increases in hate crime incidents were reported in Edmonton (+45 incidents), Montréal (+39) and Kitchener–Waterloo–Cambridge (+23).

The increase in the Edmonton CMA was driven by more reported hate crime incidents against a race or ethnicity (+25) and against a religion (+17), mainly targeting the Muslim (+8) and Jewish (+7) populations. The number of hate crimes in Montréal was attributable to 33 more reported incidents targeting a religion. Of the additional incidents, 20 of these targeted the Muslim population. In the CMA of Kitchener–Waterloo–Cambridge, counts were primarily driven by more incidents targeting different races or ethnicities (+12) and religions (+10).

Increase reported in number of female victims of violent hate crimes

Females were more likely to be victims in incidents targeting a religion, and the presence of female victims in violent crimes motivated by hatred of a religion increased in 2015. That year, 53% of these victims were female, compared with 40% in 2014. The increase in female victims of religious hate crimes is attributed to an increase in female victims for Jewish and Muslim hate crimes from 2014 to 2015.

Victims of hate crimes targeting a sexual orientation are most likely to sustain an injury and know the accused

Police-reported hate crimes targeting sexual orientation declined 9% for the year, down from 155 incidents in 2014 to 141 incidents in 2015. They accounted for 11% of the hate crimes reported in 2015.

Unlike other types of hate crimes, almost 6 in 10 of reported crimes motivated by hatred of a sexual orientation were violent. This compares with 45% of anti-race or ethnicity offences, and 24% of anti-religion hate crimes. Just over 4 in 10 victims of hate crimes targeting a sexual orientation (42%) reported an injury, compared with victims of violent crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity (29%) and of a religion (12%).

Victims of violent hate crimes targeting sexual orientation were more likely to list the relationship as acquaintance or family member (47%). This compares with victims of violent crimes motivated by hatred of a race or ethnicity (36%) and of a religion (26%).

Violent hate crimes increase in 2015, but still account for less than half of hate crimes

Violent offences accounted for 38% of police-reported hate crimes in 2015. Violent offences included such things as assault, uttering threats, and criminal harassment. Overall, the number of violent hate crimes increased 15% from the previous year, driven by increases in common assault and uttering threats.

From 2014 to 2015, the total number of non-violent hate crime incidents increased by 5%. Mischief, which includes vandalism and graffiti, was the most commonly reported offence among police-reported hate crimes, accounting for 44% of all hate crime incidents in 2015.

Source: The Daily — Police-reported hate crimes, 2015

Hate Speech And The Misnomer Of ‘The Marketplace Of Ideas’ : NPR

Good long read by David Shih on some of the weaknesses in the free speech arguments:

Critical race theorists Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic addressed this possibility in a 1992 Cornell Law Review article entitled “Images of the Outsider in American Law and Culture: Can Free Expression Remedy Systemic Social Ills.” They coin a term for the erroneous belief that “good” antiracist speech is the best remedy for “bad” racist speech: the “empathic fallacy.” The empathic fallacy is the conviction “that we can somehow control our consciousness despite limitations of time and positionality … and that we can enlarge our sympathies through linguistic means alone.”

In other words, the empathic fallacy leads us to believe that “good” speech begets racial justice and that we will be able to tell the difference between it and racist hate speech because we are distanced, objective arbiters…

In the meantime, racist hate speech flows unabated because of our faith in a flawed metaphor.

The marketplace is further gamed by “dog whistles” — code word replacements for overtly racist speech that still aim to stoke white resentment over the social mobility of people of color. When the sitting attorney general dismisses the ruling of a court because it resides on “an island in the Pacific,” he invents yet another way to signal which groups count in America and which ones don’t. And if a racist idea like this one ever flops in the marketplace, its author simply recalls it by saying he was joking.

A quarter-century ago when Delgado and Stefancic published their theory of the empathic fallacy, they speculated that the infamous Willie Horton ad tipped a presidential election because voters could not view the ad objectively. We now know that racism was the primary motivation for voters who put Donald Trump in the White House. We know that the best ideas of Gold Star father Khizr Khan at the Democratic National Convention were no match for fearmongering rumors about refugees from Syria and immigrants from Mexico. We know that after almost 100 days of Trump’s presidency, only two percent of those who voted for him regret it. This might mean they don’t see his speech as racist or don’t care if it is.

If we argue that racist hate speech must be protected, we have to account for the empathic fallacy.

We can start by admitting that this position is based on the troubling belief that it is one’s right to be hateful — and not on the comforting belief that hate is a catalyst for racial justice in a “marketplace of ideas.” Better than ever, we know how specious that logic is. We can understand that student protesters may not, in fact, long for their First Amendment rights should the tables turn on them. Law professor Charles Lawrence has argued that civil rights activists in the sixties achieved substantive gains only when they exceeded the acceptable bounds of the First Amendment, only when they disrupted “business as usual.”

Racist hate speech has come to emblemize free speech protections because the parties it injures lack social power. Students of color are expected to endure insults to their identities at the same time that celebrities win multi-million dollar defamation settlements and media companies scrupulously guard their intellectual property against plagiarism.

The belief that more speech is the remedy for “bad” speech can be a principled stance. But for the stance to be principled, it must account for why the target of racist hate speech is less deserving of exemption than, say, the millionaire with a reputation to protect from libel, or the community flooded with sexually-explicit material, or the deep state with a dark secret. Some exemptions make good sense. But does an obscene photograph of an adult that “lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value” (as defined in Miller v. California, the current law of the land regarding obscenity) really do more harm than a lecture promoting white supremacy?

American society fixates on antiracist protest when debating the First Amendment for the same reason it fixates on race when debating affirmative action: because of the perception that people of color are somehow undeserving of special privileges.

Yet it was supporting the rights of people of color that got Desiree Fairooz arrested in January for laughing during the Senate confirmation hearingof then-attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. This week, the Department of Justice moved forward with her prosecution, along with those of two men who had mocked Sessions with fake Ku Klux Klan robes. In March, the Human Rights Council of the UN published a letter expressing alarm at the number of legislative efforts criminalizing peaceful assembly and expression in the US.

Powerful interests will find their way around the First Amendment to protect the status quo against antiracist protest. Asking student protesters to tolerate racist hate speech is to ask them to trust in free speech laws that have historically exempted the powerful and punished the vulnerable. When it comes to racism, the “marketplace of ideas” is not laissez-faire and never was.

Source: Hate Speech And The Misnomer Of ‘The Marketplace Of Ideas’ : Code Switch : NPR

Canadian antisemitism statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt – The Jewish Chronicle

The StatsCan annual reports do separate out “mischief” (“non-violent offences,” about two-thirds of the total) from more serious hate crimes:

Here in Montreal, extremist imams can be seen on YouTube calling for the death of Jews at mosques, and chants of “death to the Jews” can be heard in Arabic at anti-Israel rallies.

The issue is also pretty cut and dried when synagogues are defaced with large swastikas, Jewish school libraries are burned down (as happened in Montreal in 2004), or small pipe bombs go off at Jewish institutions, such as happened in Montreal in 2007.

But what makes the issue murkier is whether real antisemitism is always involved, and a recent police report released report in Toronto bears that out.

According to the city’s Hate Crimes Unit, for the 12thconsecutive year – 12th! – Jews were the main victims in almost 30 per cent of hate-motivated crimes against minority groups, significantly ahead of black, Muslim, and the LGBTQ communities.

To me, this makes no real sense. Why should Jews be more targeted than other minorities, and for so many years in a row?

I got no help in answering this question from the unit itself. As a matter of policy, I was told, it does not publicly disclose who reports a “hate crimes” incident, other than to acknowledge that it might come from any individual or organisation.

That latter part resonated with me since it’s kind of an open secret that certain Jewish organisations have a vested interest in creating the public impression that antisemitism in Canada is perpetually “on the rise.”

So anything, in a way, can be seen and reported as a “hate crime”: from a swastika finger-painted in the snow by a stupid teenage kid to an idiot making a bigoted comment at a supermarket.

And if they are designated as “hate crimes,” those numbers can really add up! For the Jews, 12 years in a row, it appears.

It’s not irrelevant, in that context, to recall that in 2010, Canadian journalist Jonathan Kay criticised one Jewish org, B’nai Brith Canada, for its “absurd contention” that antisemitism is a growing problem in Canada.

In other words, “hate crimes” stats are pretty broad, open-to-interpretation – and dubious. The numbers should be taken with a big pinch of salt.

Of course there are serious antisemitic incidents in Canada. Of course there are. But the call as to what is truly a hate crime seems too often open to interpretation and involves too many vested community interests to get a truly accurate picture of the reality on the ground.

Source: Canadian antisemitism statistics should be taken with a pinch of salt – The Jewish Chronicle

Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy

While polling data is important, I find blind cv tests (Applying for a job in Canada with an Asian name: Policy Options) and hate crime stats (StatsCan police reported as per the above charts) to be better indicators of racism and discrimination.

Under-estimating racism and discrimination is as much a risk as over-estimating:

It’s virtually impossible in a lifetime to avoid interaction with an extremist — including the activist that Hiebert says regularly shows up at Vancouver anti-racism events, where he eagerly hands out xenophobic leaflets.

When Hiebert conducted a survey years ago that tried to identify Canadians hostile to others, he found only two to three per cent fit the bill as out-and-out racists.

Even though the Vancity report tries to go further and advise British Columbians to “combat” their own “subconscious bias,” the credit union’s officials seem unaware the concept of “unconscious racism” has been criticized even by psychologist Mahzarin Banaji, who invented the term.

Former B.C. premier Ujjal Dosanjh is among those worried about the exaggeration of racism. Even though B.C. was home to some racism decades ago, Dosanjh said many now trot out the label to make themselves look good or to stifle debate.

Ethnic Chinese leaders in B.C., including Albert Lo, Justin Fung and Clarence Cheng, have also warned about the divisiveness of inaccurately claiming racism, particularly in a province struggling with unaffordable housing, foreign capital and unequal wealth.

Could the world really be so wrong about Canada and B. C.? A Gallup poll conducted in more than 50 countries discovered 84 per cent believe Canadians are “tolerant of others who are different,” the highest ranking of any country.

China, Russia and India were at the bottom of the list. Fewer than 34 per cent of global respondents rated residents of those major immigrant-source countries as tolerant.

Indeed, discrimination cuts unpredictably across cultures. A 2016 Angus Reid survey found recent immigrants to Canada were slightly less likely than native-born people to accept homosexuals, or approve of “marrying someone from a different cultural or religious background.”

So, are British Columbians accepting of diversity?

There is no simple answer. It appears the vast majority are highly respectful of difference, while a relative few are not.

Environics Institute pollster Keith Neuman answers the question about a region’s acceptance levels by quoting the Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has become known for warning of the “danger of a single story.”

And it’s hard to think of a more treacherous single story about B.C. than the one alleging racism is alive and well.

Source: Douglas Todd: Exaggerating extent of racism is all too easy | Vancouver Sun

Anti-Islam Protesters Rip Qur’an At Ontario School Board Meeting

Certainly qualifies as Islamophobia under any definition. Image the outrage if the Torah or Bible was ripped apart:

Anti-Islam protesters ripped a Qur’an and walked over its torn pages during an Ontario school board meeting Wednesday evening, as they demanded that Muslim students be banned from praying at school.

At the meeting — held by Peel District School Board in Mississauga, Ont. — a group of enraged parents pressed the board to end religious accommodation. They presented a petition signed by 600 people that wants to stop students from gathering at school for about 15 minutes each Friday for Jummah prayers.

The meeting derailed when the school board, which must provide accommodation under the Ontario Human Rights Code, said they would not address the issue at this meeting.

A spokesman from the school board, Brian Woodland, told The Globe and Mail about 80 people attended the meeting and shouted some “fairly horrific” Islamophobic comments.

“I was actually deeply shaken by what I heard. I’m not sure I’ve ever in my life seen this level of hatred,” he said.

In a Twitter video posted by a Vice News reporter Tamara Khandaker, protesters can be heard yelling across the room.

“Islam will kill you,” a man shouts at one point.

Police eventually intervened, and the trustees proceeded with a closed-door meeting.

The Ontario government, which unanimously passed an anti-Islamophobia motion last month, spoke out against the hate speech Thursday.

“Ontario schools are places that must be beacons of equity and inclusivity. All students must feel that they belong in school and that they feel safe when they are there,” Education Minister Mitzie Hunter said, according to CBC News.

Source: Anti-Islam Protesters Rip Qur’an At Ontario School Board Meeting

And equally disturbing, from the other side of the divide:

A Montreal mosque is facing a police complaint and rebukes from the larger Muslim community after a video of an imam delivering a sermon in which he asks for Jews to be killed surfaced online.

The sermon took place at the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque in the city’s Saint-Michel neighbourhood on Dec. 23, 2016.

The video was posted to the mosque’s YouTube channel three days later. The imam in the video is Jordanian cleric Sheikh Muhammad bin Musa Al Nasr — he was reportedly an invited guest of the mosque.

In the video, the imam says in Arabic, “O Muslim, O servant of Allah, O Muslim, O servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.”

Part of the phrase references an Islamic hadith, which interprets the words and actions by the Prophet Muhammad.

CBC independently verified the speech and its translation.

CBC Montreal has reached out to the Dar Al-Arqam mosque for comment and was told no one was available.

Accused of inciting violence

The video was brought to the attention of B’nai Brith Canada, which filed a complaint with Montreal police on Monday.

The organization said it is totally unacceptable that a mosque would allow this to go on.

“This is inciting violence, and this is inciting radicalization,” said Harvey Levine, regional director of B’nai Brith in Quebec.

“It’s against the law and has to be stopped,” he said, adding that the complaint was filed with the Montreal hate crimes unit.

Montreal police confirmed they received a complaint, but would not provide any more information.

Mosque should apologize, says Muslim council

The president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, Salam Elmenyawi, wants to know why the imam was invited. He says the mosque should apologize.

He added that the Dar Al-Arqam Mosque is not one of the more than 40 institutions the council represents.

Imam Ziad Asali of the Association of Islamic Charitable Projects told CBC Montreal’s Daybreak Thursday that he was also mystified as to why the cleric was invited to preach.

“I do not understand how this person was invited to come and give a sermon and spread this hatred in Montreal against any community,” he said.

The hadith is one of more than 100,000 that are written in many books, some of which are considered authentic, while others are not, said Asali.

“To use the themes of the Prophet to spread hatred is actually something that is disrespectful towards the Prophet himself,” Asali said.

There are mosques in Montreal, the imam said, that embrace a more extremist message.

“These people, not only do they show hatred towards non-Muslims, they even show hatred to us Muslims,” he said.

Source: Imam calling for Jews to be killed in sermon at Montreal mosque draws police complaint

Montreal mosque facing calls for investigation after imam preaches on anti-Semitic conspiracy theories

Disturbing.

Prayer leader in question has been suspended and his remarks denounced by NCCM but local mosque authorities, like any local religious authorities, need to ensure that prayer leaders do not engage in hate speech:

A Montreal mosque where an imam had prayed for Jews to be killed “one by one” is facing fresh calls for an investigation after more videos surfaced online showing anti-Semitic preaching.

The Middle East Media Research Institute released a video on Tuesday of sermons in which an imam at the Al Andalous Islamic Centre conveyed conspiracy theories about Jews, their history and their origins.

Sheikh Wael Al-Ghitawi is shown in the video clips claiming that Jews were “people who slayed the prophets, shed their blood and cursed the Lord,” reported MEMRI, which translated the Friday sermons.

MEMRI

MEMRI

The imam went on to say Jews were the descendants of “Turkish mongols” and had been “punished by Allah,” who made them “wander in the land.” He further said that Jews had no historical ties to Jerusalem or Palestine.

The view conveyed by the imam has typically been used to deny that Jews have a connection to the land of Israel, said Rabbi Reuben Poupko, co-chair of the Quebec branch of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

 “This is a bizarre strain of radical propaganda. It appears in the writings of Hamas and other groups like it and claims to debunk Jewish history,” said the rabbi, who said it was “unseemly” to use a religious service to propagate hate.

He said he did not believe such views, as well as the “deeply troubling” earlier calls to violence, were supported by the broader Muslim community “but its presence in this mosque needs to be investigated.”

The videos were posted on YouTube in November 2014. The centre was already in the spotlight over an August 2014 video that showed an imam asking Allah to “destroy the accursed Jews,” and “kill them one by one.”

In a press release last week concerning the August 2014 video, the mosque administration blamed “clumsy and unacceptable phrasing” by a substitute imam, whose wording was “tainted by an abusive generalization.” The mosque could not be reached for comment about the most recent video.

“If you examine the annals of history you will see that the Jews do not have any historical right to Palestine,” Al-Ghitawi said in the latest video. He claimed there was “not a single Jew in Jerusalem and Palestine” for lengthy periods.

“Jerusalem is Arabic and Islamic,” he said at a separate sermon. “It is our land, the land of our fathers and forefathers. We are the people most entitled to it. We will not forsake a single inch of this land.”

On Monday the National Council of Canadian Muslims denounced the “incendiary speech” in the earlier Al-Andalous video, as well as a 2016 sermon at a Toronto mosque about the “filth of the Jews.”

The Muslim Association of Canada, which is affiliated with the Toronto mosque, has apologized and said it had suspended the prayer leader in question and launched an internal investigation into the incident.