A controversy is brewing over a Toronto black youth group's decision to bring the head of the American Black Panther Party to a downtown rally next week.
Upon hearing that Malik Zulu Shabazz was scheduled to speak at a rally next Tuesday, Jewish advocacy group B'nai Brith Canada issued a vehement condemnation of the U.S.-based lawyer and activist, calling him a hatemonger.
"We hope [the speech]doesn't take place," B'nai Brith vice-president Frank Dimant said. "We trust that sanity will prevail and hate mongering will not be allowed in Canada."
Mr. Shabazz is set to speak at a rally organized in part by the Black Youth Coalition Against Violence. BYCAV was founded as a result of the sharp spike in Toronto gun violence two years ago. Its founder, Kofi Hope, went on to receive a Rhodes scholarship.
Besides his involvement with the Black Panthers, Mr. Shabazz is also closely aligned with the Nation of Islam, and often appears on U.S. TV news outlets. However, he has been condemned for many of his statements about Jews, police and other groups.
"The Jews have taken the entire state of Israel, West Bank, and Gaza, all of that is stolen territory," Mr. Shabazz said on a U.S. TV news program last year. "And they are the reason that someone else would blow themselves up. It is not the Palestinians' fault. It is the fault of the Zionists."
According to a BYCAV pamphlet, Mr. Shabazz is set to speak at Queen's Park at a rally titled "Education not incarceration." Later in the day, he is also scheduled to speak at Ryerson University.
That has angered Jewish organizations in the city, who say what Mr. Shabazz preaches is unacceptable.
"He's definitely anti-Semitic, anti-white, anti-police," Mr. Dimant said, adding that B'nai Brith has already contacted Toronto police and provincial and federal authorities to ask that Mr. Shabazz not be allowed to come to Toronto.
Reached by phone yesterday, one of the organizers of the rally declined to comment. Messages left at Mr. Shabazz's U.S. law office and a Black Panther Party office were not returned.