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‘Anti-Semitic’ Islamic school curriculum links to Iran ‘totally baseless’: cleric (NATIONAL POST) Stewart Bell 05/12/12) Source: http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/05/11/anti-semitic-islamic-school-curriculum-links-to-iran-totally-baseless-cleric/
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A cleric affiliated with a Toronto madrassa under police investigation over its portrayal of Jews has dismissed as “absolutely baseless” concerns that school teaching materials were written in Iran.
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In a video posted online, Imam Sayed Muhammad Rizvi addressed followers about the “crisis” that has erupted over the East End Madrassah, which had been using texts that referred to “crafty,” “treacherous Jews” and contrasted Islam with “the Jews and the Nazis.”
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The passages are excerpts from two books published by Iranian foundations, including one directly controlled by the government of Iran — whose president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is well known for his anti- Semitism and Holocaust denial.
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Imam Rizvi, who is listed on the school website as its “Guidance Alim,” said while the madrassa had apologized and vowed to review its teaching materials, “there is one newspaper in Canada which has its own you know agenda, more on the right wing side. You know, they wouldn’t let it go.”
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He said, “once they found the book, you know, published by authors in Iran, immediately now you know the attempt has been by that newspaper to connect the curriculum to that foreign government, the madrassa to that government, and the jamaat [assembly] to that government, which is absolutely baseless.”
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Speaking on the topic of “rumors and false information,” he quoted Muslim scripture that warned against believing information received from sinners. “This is not the time for our members of the community to point fingers at one another, this is the time to unite,” he said.
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The video did little to convince some critics.
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“We think that when Canadians examine the full record, they will conclude that the problem with this curriculum is not merely one of language, but rather of the disturbing public record of those who published it,” Shimon Fogel, CEO of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said in response to the video.
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The East End Madrassah rents space at a high school run by the Toronto District School Board. Its curriculum documents not only referred to Jews in disparaging terms but also advised boys to keep fit so they would be ready for jihad. Girls, meanwhile, were told to limit their involvement in physical activities and to instead engage in hobbies that would prepare them to become mothers and wives.
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After finding what they considered “anti-Semitic” material on the madrassa’s website, Canadian Jewish groups filed complaints with the Toronto school board and York Region Police. The school promptly apologized and took the materials off its website.
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“Our curriculum is not intended to promote hatred towards any individual or group of people, rather the children are taught to respect and value other faiths, beliefs and to uphold Canada’s basic values of decency and tolerance,” the madrassa said in a statement.
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On Tuesday, Imam Rizvi told reporters the passages in question had been wrongly lifted from two websites. But the section that describes “treacherous” and “crafty” Jews as well as Jewish “plots” and “conspiracies” is actually from Prophet Muhammad: A Brief Biography, published by the Al Balagh Foundation in Tehran.
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The Nazi comparison is from A Glance at the Life of the Holy Prophet of Islam, published by the Mostazafan Foundation of New York, which the FBI alleges was a front organization secretly controlled by the Iranian regime.
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The East End Madrassah is one of three schools affiliated with the Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat, which once demanded the Ontario government apologize for hosting Salman Rushdie, the British author condemned to death by Iran over his book The Satanic Verses.
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More recently, Imam Rizvi complained in a sermon posted online that the West was “hyping the whole world up” against Iran over its nuclear program, adding, “this is all because of this fellow sitting in the Middle East, Israel.”
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In a communiqué issued Thursday, Imam Rizvi said his centre was an active member of the MOSAIC Interfaith Group and hosted up to 200 group visits by non-Muslims students.
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“Therefore, while the revelation of the existence of inappropriate language used in the material on the East End Madrasah (EEM) website is hurtful to the Jewish community, and an unreserved apology has been offered to them, it was also hurtful to us because we sense that this may have disappointed our fellow citizens who have known us and what we stand for,” the statement said.
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“The EEM has acknowledged a failure within its internal system that has enabled unauthorized content to be included in the textbook without appropriate review. We are committed to improve the system to ensure that such mistakes are not repeated. This is not consistent with the actions of our numerous sub-committees, affiliates, and initiatives that benefit the community, only one of which is the EEM.” (© 2012 National Post, a division of Postmedia Network Inc. 05/12/12)
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