Students at Ryerson U Welcome Firing of Teaching Assistant Over ‘Purify Filth of Jews’ Comment
Jewish students at Toronto’s Ryerson University applauded the school’s recent decision to terminate a teaching assistant who called to “purify Al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of Jews.”
Aedan O’Connor — a campus activist who led a “Ryerson Against Racism” campaign to have Ayman Elkasrawy fired for his remarks — praised university officials for “doing the right thing and treating this situation seriously.”
“Although antisemitism is still a problem at Ryerson, this is a positive indication of support for Jews on campus. I appreciate the administration’s efforts to combat this issue and look forward to working with them in the future,” she told The Algemeiner.
Tamar Lyons, newly elected president of the school’s chapter of Students Supporting Israel, said, “I am proud that my university stepped up and sent a message to the Ryerson community that we do not stand for such hate and bigotry.”
“Ryerson’s president, Mohamed Lachemi, truly wants to work to make the school safer for Jewish students. This was an example of him turning his words and statements into actions. With the recent antisemitic actions that have been taking place on campus, it’s really important to be receiving this support,” she told The Algemeiner.
The larger Canadian Jewish community has also expressed relief with Ryerson’s decision, including Jewish human rights group B’nai Brith Canada, whose CEO, Michael Mostyn, said in a statement, “There is no place for someone who believes that Jews are ‘filth’ to deliver lectures or grade assignments at a Canadian university.”
Mostyn added that he hopes this incident “will serve as a turning point in what has been a difficult year for Jewish students on that campus.”
Elkasrawy came under fire last month after revelations of anti-Jewish comments he delivered during a 2016 Ramadan service at the Masjid Toronto mosque, where he serves as an imam. His remarks included prayers to Allah to slay the enemies of Islam “one by one and spare not one of them.”
In an apology issued on February 20, prior to his termination, Elkasrawy stated:
Neither I, Masjid Toronto or the congregation harbor any form of hate towards Jews…I firmly believe that all human beings: Muslims, Jews, Christians and people of all and no faith deserve to live a life free of any threat to their safety. In my supplication my intention was to refer to a very specific political situation that is the result of military occupation…
The Jewish Defense League of Canada has filed a hate crime complaint with Toronto Police against the mosque.
This was the latest in a series of antisemitic controversies that have hit Ryerson in recent months. In November 2016, as The Algemeiner reported, members of Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) and the Muslim Student Association (MSA) staged a walkout from a Ryerson Student Union (RSU) meeting, during a discussion on instituting a “Holocaust Education Week” on campus. Students snickered and heckled, before exiting en masse from the meeting in order to prevent the necessary quorum for a vote on the motion.
Last month, it was revealed that the RSU president, Obaid Ullah, had covered up his participation in the staged walkout. Text messages exposed that Ullah told members of SJP and MSA to “please leave” the room to “lose quorum” and force the RSU to adjourn the meeting.