Toronto Star’s “Fake News” Serving “Political Islam”

The Left-leaning media and academia in North America and Europe have become Political Islam’s best advocates. As women in Iran and Saudi Arabia fight against Islamic oppression, which includes mandatory covering of the head and the body – hijab, the Left in the West is hailing it, as a symbol of women’s liberation. Any criticism is regarded as “Islamophobia.”

While ignoring the growing numbers of Muslims engaging in anti-Semitic and anti-Christian propaganda and incitement to physical attacks, the Left sides with Imams and Islamist leaders who promote shari’a (Islamic law), which does not separate the mosque from the State. The useful idiots on the Left- especially the Progressive Left – accept the Islamists deceitful explanations sprinkled with Western democratic terminology that shari’a -is “just and merciful.” And that an “Islamic Democracy” (an oxymoron) is the ultimate alternative to Western unjust legal systems and compatible with secular Western values. The Left does not challenge these lies. Instead, they lend a veneer of legitimacy to the Islamists and promote their hate propaganda.

A relevant example is the Toronto Star. This Left-leaning paper, which often serves as a mouthpiece of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government, attacked Jonathan D. Halevi, the former publisher and editor of the now-defunct CIJ News online, for exposing the hate-filled sermons conducted by an Imam at a Toronto mosque

Halevi, an IDF retired Lt. Col., is a senior researcher of the Middle East and radical Islam at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, who reported in CIJ News on supplications to Allah recited by Ayman Elkasrawy, an Imam at Toronto’s Masjid mosque. Halevi translated from Arabic the videos that were posted by Masjid Toronto mosque, including the following lines: “Give us victory over the disbelieving people”; “Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them. O Allah! Do not defer [it] from them”; and “O Allah, purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews.”

The Toronto Star published an “exposé” last October, alleging Halevi’s translation of Elkasrawy’s sermons was misleading.

Relying on “experts,” the Star’s Identity and Inequality Reporter” Jennifer Yang alleged Elkasrawy’s prayers were mistranslated and taken out of context. The Star’s “experts” described the translation by Halevi as “propaganda”, “mistranslated”, “decontextualized”, “disingenuous” and “slanted translation”.

The Star noted that its five Arabic experts for the story were Mohammad Aboghodda, Understanding Islam Academy, Atiqa Hachimi, University of Toronto, Nazir Harb Michel, Georgetown University, Jonathan Featherstone, University of Edinburgh and Kristen Brustad, the University of Texas at Austin.

Diane Weber Bedrman, a Canadian journalist, and blogger revealed that Toronto Star reporter, Jennifer Yang “was explicitly told in an email by Halevi that his translation was “mainly based on Islamic sources,” and provided her with a few examples.” Bederman added, “Ms. Yang did not mention this fact in her article. When asked to explain why she edited out any reference to Halevi’s statement regarding the Islamic sources, Ms. Yang decided not to respond to Mr. Halevi’s email.”

Upon my request Halevi provided a wealth of sources supporting his translation of the Arabic word in question “danas” as “filth” (and/or referring to the “filth of the Jews”/ “occupiers” etc.) from dictionaries (Lisan al-‘Arab, Al-Mawrid, Al-Faraid, Wehr,Al Munjid, Sharoni, Ayalon Shenaar, Almaliah, Persian and Urdu dictionaries and more), leading Muslim scholars in North America, Islamic organizations (such as Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb ut-Tahrir, Jund Ansar Allah and Hamas), Islamic literature (Nida’ul Islam, The Khilafah) research centers specializing in translation from Arabic (FBIS (US Government service), MEMRI, Palestinian Media Watch, Investigative Project on Terrorism, SITE Intelligence Group, IMPACT-se), mainstream media agencies and outlets (Reuters, CNN, New York Times, IRNA).

Ironically, Halevi’s translation is also supported by Toronto Star’s online news archive. On October 18, 2011, the Star reported:

“Toronto’s Abdullah Hakim Quick, an African-American convert, said AIDS was caused by “sick” homosexuals who want “to take us all down with them” and referred to the “filth” of Christians and Jews. He later rejected accusations of bigotry. His “filth” comment, he wrote, was merely a plea for “God to heal the spiritual corruption that afflicts some members of religious groups, which in turn leads to injustice against innocent people.”

Toronto Star’s article contains a link to Abdullah Hakim Quick’s statement in which he explained his statement “May Allah, Glorified and Exalted be He, clean and purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Yahood [Jews]”. Quick’s supplication urging Allah “to purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Yahood [Jews]” was widely reported also by other Canadian media outlets such asThe Globe and Mail, Maclean’s Magazine, Brampton Guardian, Xtra, Canadian Jews News (CJN), The Muslims Times.

The word “filth” in the Islamic context of non-Muslim occupation of Palestine appeared a year earlier in another news report by the Star:

Occupied Palestine will be liberated from the filth of occupation by the strength of resistance and through the faith of the resistance,” Ahmadinejad said to the crowd.”

Dr. Yusus Badat, the former chairman of the Canadian Council of Imams, explained in a sermon that the “impurity” mentioned in this verse (9:28) refers to the ” internal filth” (originally in English) of the disbelievers and not to their “external filth” (originally in English). Answering a question whether non-Muslims who are considered “impure” are allowed to enter mosques, Badat said that it is permissible if the visit serves the benefit of the Muslims (Dawah etc.), they are clean externally and respect the holy place.

On October 23, 2017, Honest Reporting Canada sent to Toronto Star a letter that among other things contained links to MEMRI’s articles and videos in which the word “danas” was translated as “filth”. Once again Toronto Star dismissed any other legitimate translation of the word “danas” and refused to correct or update its original article.

In response to Honest Reporting Canada’s letter, Kathy English, the Public Editor of the Toronto Star, wrote on October 30, 2017:

We have looked at your concerns and do not see any need for correction or clarification here. Understanding the sensitivity of the subject matter, the reporters and her editors put an immense amount of thought and consideration into this piece. The Star stands by its reporting and writing of this feature article…”

The Star unequivocal dismissal of Halevi’s translation of another sentence of Elkasrawy’s supplication – “Give us victory over the disbelieving people” – exposes, even more, the poor journalistic standards of the Star, its Public Editor, Kathy English and its Identity and Inequality Reporter, Jennifer Yang. It also casts a long shadow over the professionalism and credibility of the experts the Star consulted in this case.

In my investigation of the case, I’ve learned that Halevi told Jennifer Yang in an email sent on July 25, 2017, that his translation was based (among other Islamic sources) on the English translation of the Quran known by name Saheeh International. He added,

“Copies of Saheeh International are being distributed for free across Canada by Dawah groups including at Dundas Square. They were also handed out to visitors at Jam’e Abu Bakr Siddique Masjid, a Sunni mosque located at 2665 Lawrence Ave. East in Toronto, during an open house celebrating the first Ontario Islamic Heritage Month on October 29, 2016.)”

Also, in this case, Halevi’s translation is backed by a plethora of Islamic sources including leading Canadian Islamic organizations and scholars.

This exact translation – “Give us victory over the disbelieving people” – was used by Dr. Mustafa Khattab, imam at the St. Catharines mosque (Ontario) and a member of the Canadian Council of Imams, in his English translation of Quran.  Mustafa Khattab, The Clear Quran-A Thematic English Translation, Dr. Mustafa Khattab, Siraj Publications, Canada, 2016, pp. 76, 84, 102. The book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups, including the Muslim Students Association at York University.

The same translation appears also in a book of supplications authored by Shaikh Abu Umar Abdul Azeez (Abdul Azeez al-Athari), scholar, author, translator and Imam at Abu Huraira Center, Toronto. Abu Umar Abdul Azeez, The Accepted Dua [Supplication], compiled and translated by Abu Umar; Abdulazeez,  http://abenefitaday.com/ in conjunction with Abu Hurairah Centre, Third Edition, 2013, Canada, pp. 25, 82, 85. This book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups, including Walk-In Islamic infoCenter.

Here are some other sources, including Canadian Islamic sources, that supports Halevi’s translation:

  • Hosam Helal: “Grant us victory over those who made us their enemies”. Imam Hosam Helal currently serves as the Imam and Religious Affairs Director at Islamic Society of St. Catharines. He also serves as the Associate Chaplain at Brock University, an instructor at ISNA Canada, and a director of Mishkah Social Services. He previously served as the Imam at the Muslim Association of Hamilton and Program Coordinator at ISNA Canada. He has served as Imam, khateeb, teacher, and instructor for the last 10 years at several universities throughout Canada and the United States.[1]
  • 24 Hours with the Prophet, reviewed by Sheikh Abu-Khalid Almadani, Islamic Communication Trust, Karachi, Pakistan, p. 122.The book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups.
  • Fortress of the Muslim, Invocations from the Quran & Sunnah (Arabic, English & transliteration), reviewed by Sheikh Imam Ahmed Shahab, collectfreequran.com, pp. 43-45. The book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups, including Walk-In Islamic infoCenter and the Muslim Students Association at York University.
  • Muslim Prayer Handbook, compiled by Muhammad Obaidullah, Islamic Communication Trust, Karachi, Pakistan, p. 4. The book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups.
  • The Quran: English Meanings and Notes, Saheeh International, Al-Muntadsa Al-Islami Trust, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, 2012, pp. 37, 44, 61. The book has been distributed for free by Canadian Dawah groups, including Walk-In Islamic infoCenter, Street Dawah Toronto, Street Dawah near St. Lawrence Market in downtown Toronto, the Muslim Students Association at York University and Canadian Muslim Students Associations.
  • Syllabus for the Month of April for MGAs and Workers issued by ICNA Canada (Islamic Circle of North America-Canada) headed by Dr. Iqbal al-Nasvi, the Charman of the Canadian Council of Imams.
  • Race To Jannah-5, Group B: Grade 1 to 3, Quran & Tafsir: Surah Al-Baqarah (285-286), http://www.bdhalaqa.ca/ ((Islamic organization in Edmonton, Alberta that teaches the Quran), p. 3, 4.
  • The Markaz Oasis, Markaz-Ul-Islam (Islamic Centre in Edmonton, Alberta), Issue: Spring 2012, p. 8.
  • Dua Qunoot [Supplication], Complete Qunoot in Arabic, English, translation and transliteration, Mashary Rashod, p. 6.
  • A selection of Supplications From Al-Qur’an and Authentic Hadith, ISLAMIC KNOWLEDGE TEAM, p. 3.
  • Daily Dua [supplication] – Authentic Adhkar prescribed by the Messenger of Allah, Ummah Welfare Trust, 2016, pp. 45-46.
  • Dua [supplication] of the Prophet, http://www.islamsbudskap.com, p. 20-21.
  • Dua [supplication]-The Weapon of the Believer, Abu Ammaar Yasir Qadhi, Al-Hidaayah Publishing and Distribution (2001), p. 52.
  • What to Do When a Muslim Dies, The Islamic Bulletin, pp. 36-37.
  • FORTY RABBANA, Collection of Short Qur’anic Du`a, FISABILILLAH PUBLICATIONS, pp.6-7, 11-12.

Based on its academic experts the Star exonerated Elkasrawy from wrongdoing when he recited the following supplication: “Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them. O Allah!” According to the Star, the supplication was “decontextualized” and did not refer to Jews.

Interestingly, in his original article on February 18, 2017, Halevi did not state or imply that Ayman Elkasrawy referred to the Jewish people when he was praying to Allah to “slay them one by one.” Halevi wrote the following:

“In 2016, imams at the mosque recited supplications to Allah in support of the “mujahideen (those who engage in jihad) everywhere,” the total destruction of the enemies of Islam and the purification of Al-Aqsa Mosque from the “filth of the Jews.”

Moreover, the Star ignored the fact that in his three supplications recited during Ramadan 2016 at Masjid Toronto, Ayman Elkasrawy invoked Allah for inflicting a total annihilation of the enemies of Islam who committed at least one of the following transgressions

  • Wishing ill for Muslims and Islam (Thoughts) – “Whoever wishes ill for us and wishes ill for Islam and the Muslims): “Destroy/ annihilate them as You destroyed/ annihilated [the peoples] of ʿĀd and Thamud [ancient peoples annihilated by Allah because they didn’t heed the warnings of the prophets].
  • Inflicting injustice on Muslims (Unspecific action) – “Whoever inflicts injustice on your slaves [Muslims]…O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them. O Allah! Do not defer [it] from them.”
  • Displacing Muslims-(Specific action) “Whoever displaced the sons of the Muslims …O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one of them.”
  • Killing/fighting against Muslims-(Specific action) “Whoever killed/fought against Muslims “O Allah! Count their number; slay them one by one and spare not one .”

Toronto Star relied on another expert on anti-Semitism to defend Elkasrawy. Bernie Farber, the Executive Director of Mosaic Institute and former chief executive officer of the Canadian Jewish Congress concluded, “I just do not believe that Ayman [Elkasrawy] is a hateful person”. The Star added: “Farber was bothered by the discrepancy between the “quiet, dignified” man he had come to know and someone who would pray for Jewish people to be slain. Over the years, he has developed “almost a sixth sense” for detecting anti-Semites. Elkasrawy did not fit the mould.”

In my opinion, the Star’s “exposé” was not a paragon of great investigative journalism, but rather seems like a propaganda piece made of “fake news” in the service of the “Political Islam” advocates in North America. The dismissal of contradictory compelling evidence and the insistence not to retract the false allegations shows the Star’s biased and unreliable journalism.

Why did Jennifer Yang, Toronto Star’s reporter ignored  the paper’s previous accurate translation of the often recited Muslim prayer, which says that all non-Muslims have “internal filth” and therefore they are banned from entering a mosque, in favor of a more (incorrect) “politically correct” translation that obscures the threat to non-Muslims? Where was the paper’s chief editor?

The unjustified attack on Halevi raises serious questions regarding the Toronto Star’s credibility.

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