Hate Incidents Surface in British Columbia

Nov. 25, 2020

By STEVE ARNOLD

A pair of nasty hate incidents have appeared in British Columbia.

In the first, a convicted hatemonger has been handed a conditional sentence and more probation for breaching an earlier probation order to stop posting antisemitic claims on the Internet.

The sentence came a month after Arthur Topham was found guilty of breach of probation. That restriction was imposed following a 2017 conviction for willfully promoting hatred against Jews.

Under the terms of the first probation order, Topham was banned from posting any online content related to Jews, the Jewish religion, Israel and Israelis, and/or Zionism.

Topham was first charged in 2012 after he had called for Jews to be forcibly sterilized, claimed that Canada is “controlled by the Zionist Jew lobby,” and described Jewish places of worship as “synagogues of Satan.” He was convicted by a jury in November 2015.

He then launched a failed constitutional challenge to Canada’s hate speech laws, which delayed his sentencing until March 2017.

Though facing a maximum penalty of two years in prison, he received a six-month curfew and ban on posting online. At the time, B’nai Brith condemned the sentence as a “mere slap on the wrist,” warning that it failed to establish a deterrent against future offences.

Originally ordered not to post comments about Jews or Judaism for two years, Topham was accused of violating those conditions.

“This decision is a positive development in the fight against antisemitism and hate speech in Canada,” said Michael Mostyn, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada. “We need accountability for inciting hatred in this country, and Topham can now serve as an example to remind people that there are real consequences for these sorts of actions against your fellow citizens.”

Both Topham’s original conviction and his re-arrest for breach of probation were made possible through the work of Harry Abrams, a long-time B’nai Brith volunteer based in British Columbia.

In a new incident, B’nai Brith announced it is reaching out to police after learning of another act of incitement by a firebrand religious figure.

In a Facebook post flagged on Nov. 23 by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Younus Kathrada calls Jews “brothers of monkeys and khanzeer” (pigs in Arabic), and calls on Allah to “tear them apart.”

Younus Kathrada
Younus Kathrada

The post was made in 2014, but remains online. Kathrada, who preaches for the “Muslim Youth of Victoria,” made the same allegation in 2004, prompting a police complaint by B’nai Brith at that time.

In his 2014 post, Kathrada also prayed for the success of Chechen jihadists. Notably, one of his congregants travelled to Chechnya to fight Russia and was killed there in 2004.

In October 2019, Kathrada advised his followers not to vote in last year’s federal election, arguing that all Jewish and Christian candidates were “filthy” and “evil.” In January of that year, Kathrada suggested that wishing Christians a merry Christmas was a sin worse than murder.

In April, B’nai Brith warned the B.C. Hate Crimes Unit of YouTube sermons by Kathrada calling on Allah to “humiliate the unbelievers and polytheists” and “destroy the enemies of Islam, the heretics and the atheists.”

Kathrada also beseeches divine aid to “grant victory to those waging jihad on your path in every place” and “grant them victory over their enemies and your enemies.” In October, he called French terrorism victim Samuel Paty “a cursed, evil-spirited, filthy excuse for a human being.”

“There must be consequences for years of relentless hate and incitement against Jews and others,” Mostyn said. “The law enforcement and legal system in B.C. showed last week that it can act effectively against hate – but consistency is paramount.”