Day of Infamy Canadian Reaction Muslims fear backlash; Jewish group issues alert
By JANE GADD, The Globe and Mail
While Canadian Islamic groups warned of a backlash against Muslims after the terror attacks in the United States, a prominent Jewish group demanded stronger measures to keep out pro-Palestinian demonstrators expected in Montreal this weekend.
The Canadian Association for Islamic Relations advised all Muslim schools and community centres to go on high security alert yesterday, saying that "the media have already aired interviews with persons who have used phrases like 'Muslim terrorists' and have attributed these vicious attacks to Muslims."
While the organization said there is no cause for panic, it urged Muslims in Canada take more caution.
B'nai Brith Canada, a Jewish advocacy group, said it was issuing an "urgent alert" to Canadian immigration and security authorities because thousands of demonstrators planned to enter Canada for a mass rally in Montreal on Saturday.
Rochelle Wilner, the national president of B'nai Brith, said the demonstration is being organized by a Palestinian student group at Concordia University. She said the university has told the Students for Palestinian Human Rights that it may not hold the rally on campus.
In a statement, the Jewish group said yesterday's events in the United States represent a disregard for civilized society.
"Today's terrorist attacks throughout the United States have emphasized the vulnerability of all democratic states throughout the world in the face of the ruthless agenda of terrorist groups, those who fund and equip them, and those who provide them with logistic and moral support," it said.
"Individuals among these [Montreal] demonstrators may well have links to organizations that espouse, support or implement terrorist activities."
Frank Dimant, executive vice-president of B'nai Brith, spoke of reports that some people in the West Bank and Lebanon danced in the streets after hearing of the attacks. He called for "all democracies [to] work together to stamp out terrorism."
Leaders of several Muslim groups expressed worry that Canadians won't differentiate between militant extremists and ordinary Muslims and supporters of Palestinians who are horrified by the carnage in the United States.
"All Canadian Muslim residents strongly condemn what are apparently vicious and cowardly attacks against innocent human beings," said the Canadian arm of the Islamic Society of North America, which is based in Mississauga, Ont.
But while condemning the attacks, the Kitchener, Ont., office of the international Islamic Humanitarian Service grouped "demolition of homes, occupying other people's land . . . and the deliberate assassination of political figures" with hijacking as acts of terrorism.
Canadian Jewish Congress president Keith Landy sent condolences to the families of the victims and urged calm while the situation is assessed.