by Doris Strub Epstein
Waving placards and chanting “terrorists go back”, Jews joined with Indians from Kashmir to protest a conference on Kashmir held at the Islamic Society of York Region. located on a rural Stouffville side road. They were surrounded by a bevy of police cars and police, safe-guarding against possible violence.
The demonstration was organized by the Indo Canadian Kashmir Forum (ICKF), who claimed the conference, held under the patronage of the Pakstani Consulate in Toronto, was “one sided” . A statement issued by ICKF proclaimed the speakers invited were radical Islamists, anti -Semitic leaders and pro militant Kashmiri separatist speakers. “One -sided debates held under the garb of free speech are nothing but propaganda and it is against the Canadian law to indulge in propagandist activities against another secular democracy.” Media were not invited to attend.
Among the speakers were Lord Nazir Ahmed, member of British House of Lords, who was suspended from the Labour party in 2012 for anti -Semitic remarks. He blamed a Jewish conspiracy for a prison sentence he incurred following a fatal car crash. On Pakistani television he said he was imprisoned because of pressure in the courts from Jews “who own newspapers and TV channels.
Sir Gerald Kaufman, Member of Parliament Britain, was also an invited speaker. Kaufman who is Jewish, has compared the actions of Israel troops in Gaza to Nazis. He has called for economic sanctions of Israel and an arms ban. In 2002 he called Israel a “pariah state” and political leaders “war criminals”.
Hugo Schonhaao came with three of his children to “protest the importation of terror into Canada”. They want Sharia law on the streets of Canada and are preaching hate. Julius Suraski representing the Jewish Defence League came to “support our Kashmiri friends”.
The Imam of the Islamic Society, Zafar Bangash, has been a controversial figure. He spoke last year at the Queens Park Al Quds rally. In his writings he is stridently anti-Israel. He is also an advocate for Iranian-inspired theocracies.
The Indo Canadian Kashmir Forum was formed shortly after armed Islamic fundamentalists trained in Pakistan, attacked in l989, Kashmiri Hindus, also known as Pandits, the indigenous people of that region, leading to ethnic cleansing and subsequent mass exodus of Kashmiri Pandits which continues until today, according to ICKF. The Congressional Human Rights Foundation, an independent human rights body from Washington, which sent a delegation to Kashmir in December l993, reports that there are now some 300,000 Kashmiri Pandits displaced in India. India’s National Human Rights Commission stated that Kashmiri Pandits underwent a “near genocide” in l989/90.
Pandit properties were destroyed or taken over by local Muslims. Brutal killings were reported. Radical Islamists have renamed Kashmiri Pandit’s places of worship and cultural significance in an attempt to wipe out their 5000 year old history.
Halima Moza and her family fled “with the clothes on our back” in the middle of the night. “They were killing the men.” They left everything, became refugees. “We lost everything. It’s 25 years and we can never go back. I will never see my home again”.
The ICKF’s director, Vidya Dhar, is demanding an investigation of the Islamic Society of York Region for “creating an environment of hatred against the Indian and Jewish communities.” He is also urging the Canadian Government to initiate inquiries against the Pakistani Consulate in Toronto for “openly indulging in activities that have nothing to do with their diplomatic mission.”