Firas (Hussaini) Al Najim is the co-manager of Canadian Defenders For Human Rights (CD4HR), a pro Palestinian Canadian registered non for profit organization (NO.1067715-9).
On May 16, 2020 Firas Al Najim used a loudspeaker to recite the Islamic call to prayer (adhan) outside the Jaffari Islamic Centre located at 9000 Bathurst Street in Thornhill, ON. He also delivered a speech calling Muslims to follow the religious duty of refraining from any business transaction with Zionists. Here is Firas Al Najim’s prayer and speech:
In the name of Allah the most gracious, the most merciful. I’m here is front of the Jaffari Islamic Centre on Bathurst, 9000 Bathurst and we are about to call for prayer, the adhan, this call is in Arabic (originally in Arabic):
I seek refuge in Allah from the accursed and evil Satan. In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful. Allah and the angels pray upon the Prophet [Mohammad]. O believers, pray for the Prophet and greet him with, peace be with you. O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad. Glory to Allah and praise to Allah. There is no god but Allah. Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. I testify that there is no God but Allah. I testify that there is no God but Allah. I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad. I testify that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad. I testify that Ali is the custodian of Allah. I testify that [Ali] the leader of the [Muslim] believers and his infallible and oppressed children are the Hujjat of Allah [guided by the wisdom of Allah]. Hasten to the prayer. Hasten to the prayer. Hasten to the salvation. Hasten to the salvation. Hasten to the best of deeds. Hasten to the best of deeds. Allah is the Greatest. Allah is the Greatest. There is no god but Allah. There is no god but Allah. O Allah, send prayer upon the prophets and the messengers, the good and pure Abu al-Qasim al-Mustafa, Mohammad, and Ali. O Allah, send prayers upon Muhammad and the followers of Muhammad.
(Originally in English)
Peace be upon Mohammad and his progeny and all the prophets from Adam all the way down to to Noah, to Moses, to Jesus, to the Prophet Mohammad.
We are here today, it is May 16, 2020. It is Saturday and it is also the 23rd night of Ramadan. It is called the powerful night, Laylat al-Qadr. It is a very heavy night. It is a very powerful night. This night is a better than a thousand years. This is what the Quran says… We thanks the City of Vaughan for giving the permission to call the prayer of adhan during this corona virus and the crisis that hits the global world. We want to speak also about an important fact. We need to pray for the Palestinian people in the holy land. And this centre here [Jaffari Islamic Centre], the majority of the followers, they follow Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani, Ayatollah al-Sistani… And he [Sistani] is totally against the occupation of Palestine, he [Sistani] is against the illegitimate Zionist regime. He [Sistani] calls for the liberation the holy Palestine and also for boycotting all the Zionist businesses. He said that it is illegal it is forbidden for any Muslim, especially the followers that follow him, to do any business transaction with any Zionist business, and this is on his website if you look at http://www.sistani.org/ and check that out. This centre, the Jaffari [Community] Centre, they follow, the majority of these people follow Sistani, and Sayyid Muhammad Rizvi is very righteous scholar, very educated man, very wise man, he is also a representative of Sistani. So I’m holding up her a sign. This sign here… is part of his speech at the Friday sermon [Juma’]… so he says: It remains to be pointed out that the religious authority strongly condemns the unjust plan recently revealed to give (legitimacy) to the occupation of more occupied Palestinian lands, and it affirms its stand with the oppressed Palestinian people in adherence to their right to regain their occupied lands and establish their independent state, and calls upon Arabs, Muslims and all the free world to support them in that. This is a very important situation. You know the corona virus has been hitting us for a few months and everybody feels it. The holy land of Muslims, Christians and Jews has been occupied for over 72 years. Today, these days, we’re marking the Nakba 72, the Catastrophe, occupation and the betrayal of the holy land. We need to stand with the Palestinian people. we need to be firm and we need to talk to our MPs, talk to the government officials, the prime minister over and over again to remind them that it should be human rights over benefits. It should be justice over financial gains and [Jewish/ Zionist] lobbies that bully and so on, you know, whatever kind of evil things that they do, we need to stand for justice, to stand for human rights, we need to stand as the Canadian government always promotes democracy, democracy is not gained by occupying, killing, murdering… blocking people and so on. So this is our call. My name is Firas Al-Najim. Canadian Defenders for Human Rights [CD4HR]. I thanks everybody and pray that people that have the corona virus that God Almighty heal them and hopefully we can have the vaccine in earliest time. Thanks you very much. Peace be upon you Allah’s mercy and blessings.
On May 17, 2020 Thornhill MPP Gila Martow issued the following statement:
MARTOW CALLS FOR DIALOGUE WITH JAFFARI CENTRE
The following is a statement from Thornhill MPP Gila Martow on an online video titled “Jaffari Center Athan/Nakba 72 catastrophe anniversary. Praying for corona vaccine & a free Palestine”
“Many have contacted me concerned about a recent online video showing a gentleman outside the Jaffari Islamic Community Centre in Thornhill Woods.
I am disappointed that this gentleman used his alleged permission from the City of Vaughan to spew anti-Zionist propaganda and anti-Semitic tropes with no regard for the vast majority of Vaughan residents who support living together in peace.
It is equally unfortunate that he would use a prayer for victims of COVID-19 to promote intolerance and misinformation about international legal issues.
I certainly hope that this gentleman’s message of intolerance and misinformation is not shared by the membership and families of the Jaffari Centre. I look forward to meaningful dialogue with them in the near future.”
On May 17, 2020 Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat of Toronto issued the following statement:
UNAUTHORIZED CALL TO PRAYER VIDEO AT THE JAFFARI COMMUNITY CENTRE
Vaughan, ON, May 17, 2020 – The Islamic Shia Ithna Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) of Toronto is not associated with the eight-minute video shared on social media called “Jaffari center Athan/ Nakba 72 catastrophe anniversary. Praying for corona vaccine & free Palestine”. This video shows an unknown man reciting the Islamic call to prayer, followed by remarks.
“We do not know the individual who recorded himself on our premises at the Jaffari Community Centre in the City of Vaughan,” said ISIJ of Toronto Vice President, Shafiq Ebrahim. “The individual came to our premises without our authorization and we did not request nor allow this recording to occur,” he added.
Effective March 3, all ISIJ of Toronto centres have been closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ISIJ of Toronto is, furthermore, deeply concerned with the language of a press release issued by Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) Gila Martow, which cast speculative insinuations about the Jaffari community. Had MPP Gila Martow taken the time to contact the Jaffari Community Centre, she would have learned that the individual came onto the premises without authorization.
Given that, the ISIJ of Toronto is more than willing to discuss this incident with MPP Gila Martow.
On May 17, 2020 The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) issued the following statement:
NCCM DEMANDS APOLOGY AFTER PROBLEMATIC PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY MPP GILA MARTOW
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) is aware of, and strongly disagrees with, a recent press release issued from the office of MPP Gila Martow. The press release, dated May 17, 2020, had the headline, “Martow Calls For Dialogue with the Jaffari Centre”. The press release was issued in relation to a video made by an individual speaking in the parking lot of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Toronto (also known as the “Jaffari Community Centre”).
“As would have been abundantly clear if MPP Martow had endeavoured to undertake the appropriate diligence that a reasonable person would have expected by actually calling the Jaffari Community Centre, she would have been immediately informed that this video and message was made by someone who had no authorization to do so,” said Mustafa Farooq, CEO of NCCM.
Farooq further said, “Putting out a press release without getting all the facts straight – and without even endeavouring to do so – is simply unacceptable.”
In her press release, MPP Martow further stated, “I certainly hope that this gentleman’s message of intolerance and misinformation is not shared by the membership and families of the Jaffari Centre.”
MPP Martow would have been able to make an immediate determination about this speculative statement if she had exercised the diligence that we expect of our elected officials and attempted to engage in dialogue with the Jaffari Centre prior to issuing such a statement.
NCCM is demanding that MPP Martow immediately apologize for this problematic press release, and issue a clarifying statement.
On March 31, 2019 Firas Al Najim published the letter he sent to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. According to this document, Shafiq Ebrahim,the Vice President of the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Toronto, endorsed Firas Al Najim’s letter. Here is the text of the letter:
March 26th, 2019
The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, PC MP,
Prime Minister of Canada,
24 Sussex Drive,
Ottawa, ON., K1M 1M4
Re: Letter to Prime Minister on Saudi Arms Deal
Dear Mr. Prime Minister,
We, the Canadian Defenders for Human Rights (CD4HR), and our allies and supporters in the Canadian civil society are writing to urgently bring to your attention the 4th anniversary of the Saudi-led coalition’s war on Yemen; a country undergoing the worst humanitarian crisis in the world according to a 2019 Humanitarian Needs Overview report, prepared by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. That stark UN report provides the following grim overview:
The humanitarian crisis in Yemen remains the worst in the world. Nearly four years of conflict and severe economic decline are driving the country to the brink of famine and exacerbating needs in all sectors. An estimated 80 per cent of the population – 24 million people – require some form of humanitarian or protection assistance, including 14.3 million who are in acute need. Severity of needs is deepening, with the number of people in acute need a staggering 27 per cent higher than last year. Two-thirds of all districts in the country are already pre-famine, and one-third face a convergence of multiple acute vulnerabilities. The escalation of the conflict since March 2015 has dramatically aggravated the protection crisis in which millions face risks to their safety and basic rights.
Beginning on March 26th, 2015, the Saudi-led coalition has perpetrated numerous military attacks & extensive war crimes in Yemen, causing countless casualties & immense suffering. The Saudi military targets schools, factories, hospitals (including Doctors without Borders mobile clinics) and even funeral processions. In August 2018, Saudi authorities admitted that mistakes had been made, leading to the bombing of a school bus that killed 40 children between the ages of 6 — 11 years old, as well as 11 adults. In the same month, the Saudi-led coalition bombed a fish market and hospital, killing 55 civilians and injuring over 170. According to Save the Children, at least 85,000 children may have starved to death because of the conflict and many of those deaths are a direct result of the Saudi blockade of Yemen. UN human rights experts, and international human rights and humanitarian organizations have all decried the fact that it is evident that Saudi-coalition forces fail to draw the distinction between military and civilian targets in their attacks.
All of this occurs against a backdrop of impunity and a failure of accountability. The Saudi-led coalition continues to bomb and blockade Yemen without consequences, meaning that the famine, cholera outbreak and other humanitarian concerns only worsen. We cannot forget that these are the same authorities who pushed former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to drop Saudi Arabia from the “list of shame” in his 2016 report to the UN Security Council on children and armed conflict; a decision he described as, “one of the most painful and difficult” he had to make.
You are of course aware, Prime Minister, of Saudi Arabia’s long history of extensive human rights violations. These violations are not limited to the war in Yemen. Recent concerns have included the torture, unjust imprisonment and unfair trials of women’s rights activists in the country, as well as clear Saudi responsibility for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul, These grave human rights violations have in turn propelled growing numbers of Saudi citizens to flee their country, seeking asylum in many countries including Canada.
Prime Minister, Canada has positioned itself globally as a country that advocates for human rights, under all circumstances. Canadians take pride in this commitment to peace, rights and justice. That is why there is such disbelief and deep concern about the fact that Canada continues to sell arms to the Saudi regime and that your government has failed in particular to halt the sale of $15 billion worth of Canadian-manufactured light armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia. Our organizations have called on all governments to stop selling arms to Saudi Arabia and all countries involved in the fighting in Yemen. Some have now taken that step. It is time for Canada to follow suit.
Mr. Prime Minister, this is our second letter to you making this urgent plea. We wrote a similar letter to you one year ago, on March 26, 2018, endorsed by 24 Canadian organizations. Beyond a confirmation of receipt, we did not receive any substantive response to that letter. We hope that you will engage with us this time and we hope that we can schedule a meeting with you or your officials to discuss this important matter. We have included articles of proof and endorsements as well. We thank you in advance for your consideration of our requests.
Firas Al Najim,
Manager of CD4HR,
This letter has been endorsed by the following organizations/Individuals:
Names of Organization Contact Person Position/Title
1 Amnesty International Canada Alex Neve Secretary General
2 Artists for Peace (Les Artistes pour la paix) Pierre Jasmin Professor at Universite du Quebec a Montreal
3 Baqir Academy Dr. Usama Al-Atar Principal, Former Saudi prisoner and torture victim
4 Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East Thomas Woodley President
5 Ed Corrigan Law Edward Corrigan Founder
6 Group of 78 Roy Culpepe Chair: Group of 78
7 Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Toronto, Shafiq Ebrahim Vice President
8 Islamic Humanitarian Service Shafiq Hudda Manager
9 Justice without Borders Kamel El-Cheikh Vice President
10 Lawyer’s Rights Watch Canada – LRWC Gail Davidson Member of the Board of Directors
11 Mobilization Against War & Occupation (MAWO) Alison Bodine Chair
12 Mosque and School of Ahlul Bayt Hussein Dabaja President
13 Muslim Society of Ottawa Jaffar Hashmi President
14 New Democratic Party (NDP) Jagmeet Singh Leader of (NDP) party, Member of Parliament
15 Rideau Institute on International Affairs Peggy Mason President, Former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN
16 Thaqalayn Muslim Association (Ryerson University) Samanah Ali President
17 Yemeni Community in Canada Hamza Shaiban President
To endorse this letter please send an email to: CD4HR21@gmail.com
Please include the following:
Name of the Organization/Individual endorsing the letter
Name of a Contact person and email address
A sentence that state your endorsement
A few years ago Firas Al Najim issued a statement in which he wrote: “Eid Mubarak… special thanks for all the Hospitality and hardwork in all centers from Al Zahra Center, Imam Ali Center, Al Huda Center, Al Mostafa Center, Masumeen Center, Jaffari Center, Imam Al Mahdi Center…”
On May 19, 2020 the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat of Toronto, and Thornhill MPP Gila Martow issued a joint statement:
The National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM), the Islamic Shia Ithna-Asheri Jamaat (ISIJ) Toronto, and MPP Gila Martow have engaged in meaningful dialogue and conversation today after a video was recorded in Thornhill on or about May 16, 2020.
NCCM and the ISIJ-Toronto were made aware, via press release, that an individual had made an unauthorized video at the parking lot of the Jaffari Community Centre in Thornhill. This individual is not affiliated with the ISIJ and the video was not sanctioned by the organization. The ISIJ does not permit trespassing.
Authorized spokespersons of the ISIJ are the only persons authorized to speak on behalf of the ISIJ, and they wish to assure all members of the community that they do not in any way sanction the words spoken by this individual. As well, the ISIJ and NCCM wish to reaffirm their commitment to stand against all forms of discrimination, including anti-Semitism, as they stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters against intolerance.
MPP Martow wishes to thank the representatives of NCCM and ISIJ for their understanding and willingness to confront intolerance. She also commits to contacting representatives of the organizations directly should any further unfortunate incidents occur, and apologizes for any hurt she caused to the community of the Jaffari Community Centre.
The NCCM, the ISIJ and MPP Martow wish to remind members of all communities that respectful dialogue will always overshadow intolerance. We will continue to engage in productive dialogue and continue to demonstrate to all communities that we are stronger when united.
Update (May 20, 2020)
On May 19, 2020 Canadian Defenders For Human Rights (CD4HR) has issued the following statement:
UNFORTUNATELY @isijoftoronto @JaffariCC Administration have lied & dissociated from our manager @Islamic_HR [Firas Al Najim] out of fear of the #Zionist politician @GilaMartow & the zionist influential bullying network. Al Najim had permission & is embedded in the community. DETAILED RELEASE SOON
On May 20, 2020 Canadian Defenders For Human Rights (CD4HR) has issued the following statement:
Justice is justice even if it means calling out your own. Normalization with the ones that support our killers & occupiers is FORBIDDEN & SHAMEFUL. Coalitions with enemies of the oppressed Palestinians will always remain a BIG BLACK STAIN. @nccm + @isijoftoronto + @GilaMartow