Jewish groups Outraged; Vision Backpedals On ‘Regret’ To Air Preacher
Stewart Bell, National Post
TORONTO – A day after saying it regretted broadcasting a lecture by a Pakistani preacher who says Muslim scripture advocates violent holy war and the “extermination” of Jews, VisionTV put him back on the air again this weekend.
A leading Jewish organization said yesterday it would launch a formal complaint with Canadian broadcast regulators after Vision aired another hour-long talk by fundamentalist Israr Ahmad on Saturday.
The preacher’s reappearance on Canadian television came as a surprise to some, since VisionTV had issued a statement on Friday expressing regret for broadcasting Mr. Ahmad’s lecture on violent jihad on July 14.
But despite the statement, Vision aired another lecture Saturday afternoon by Mr. Ahmad, who compares Jews to “parasites,” describes the Holocaust as “divine punishment” and calls Jews “condemned.”
“It is most troubling that VisionTV made a calculated decision to re-broadcast a segment featuring a radical Imam, whose words have the potential to incite hatred and violence,” Frank Dimant of B’nai Brith Canada said yesterday.
“It is a complete abdication of their responsibility to knowingly give a platform to this individual whose calls for jihad can clearly be interpreted by his supporters as a call to engage in terrorism. B’nai Brith Canada will be launching a formal complaint with the CRTC calling for a full investigation of this matter.”
Canadian Jewish Congress spokesman Len Rudner said he was “deeply concerned that Vision continues to provide a podium from which Israr Ahmad can speak and gain credibility.
“It’s fair to say that we know what Mr. Ahmad stands for, the question now is whether or not VisionTV wishes to associate itself in any manner with an individual who holds such a hateful agenda.”
Vision, which is available in 7.8 million Canadian households, has a strict code of ethics that forbids the broadcast of programs that could incite violence, overseas conflicts or strife between religions. Vision could not be reached for comment yesterday.
* But a little Jew hatred doesn’t count, does it?
Last week, a Vision executive, Mark Prasuhn, described “Dr. Ahmad” as a religious scholar –he is a medical doctor –-and in a recent interview the preacher acknowledged that he was not welcome in Canada. “I had no official information about a ban [from entering Canada] but I understood that I was not in the good books of the U.S. and the West, especially after 9 /11, due to my concept of radical Islam; which demands a Muslim to struggle against the prevailing corrupt and exploitative system in the world,” he said.
Mr. Ahmad heads a self-described “revolutionary” organization called Tanzeem-e Islami, which wants to turn Pakistan into a fundamentalist Islamic state and a launch pad for the global domination of Islam.
Although he is a popular speaker in Pakistan, Mr. Ahmad’s theories about a Jewish conspiracy to secretly rule the world through banking institutions have given him little credibility outside the Muslim world.
The controversy comes as Canadian authorities are struggling to deal with a growing number of Islamist extremists who support terrorism against the West. The Canadian Security Intelligence Service says many youths have been influenced by radical spiritual leaders.
Mr. Ahmad’s followers in Canada include terror suspect Qayyum Abdul Jamal, arrested last summer for his alleged role in a plot to detonate truck bombs in downtown Toronto.
Pakistan: Islam, Nothing But Islam