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Rebel News claims ownership of van under investigation by Toronto police hate crimes unit


Rebel News has claimed ownership of a cube van in Toronto seen displaying videos of Muslim people in an incident that politicians, community leaders, and police have since deemed as Islamophobic.

In a post on social media Thursday, founder Ezra Levant said the media group is under investigation for running the ads on their company van.

The videos, displayed on the billboard and later shared on social media, ask "Is this Yemen? Is this Syria? Is this Iraq?" before showing images of people in prayer. "Wake up Canada. You are under siege," it then reads.

The Toronto Police Service confirmed Wednesday that its Hate Crimes Unit is investigating the incident.

Community members and activists have spoken out against its message since the videos surfaced earlier this week. On Wednesday, Canada’s Special Representative on Combatting Islamophobia, Amira Elghawaby, called the incident "threatening and dangerous.”

The messaging goes beyond free speech and has stoked fear within the Muslim community, Elghawaby said. The representative pointed to a 500 per cent increase in Islamophobic and antisemitic online hate speech observed in Canada since Oct. 7 and urged Canadians to speak up in the face of injustice.

"We have really been on edge when it comes to hate targeting our communities and this is just one more example of why people are really worried," Elghawaby said. "We do not want to see another Quebec mosque massacre or a London family attack.”

The National Council of Canadian Muslims also decried the campaign on Tuesday, calling it “pure Islamophobia.” It called on leaders to condemn the messaging.

When asked about the investigation at an unrelated news conference on Thursday afternoon, Mayor Olivia Chow said Islamophobic sentiments have no place in Toronto.

"Toronto is a city where everyone belongs. Prayers are welcome, whether you want to pray in a synagogue, a mosque or a church — or in a local park or community centre. It's your freedom to do so,” Chow said.

Earlier on Thursday, Toronto businessman Mohamad Fakih offered a $25,000 reward for information that led to the arrests of those responsible, claiming that politicians and police leadership had failed to act sufficiently.

“We won’t stand for this nonsense here in Toronto,” he wrote.

Police said Thursday their investigation remains ongoing.

In a message posted to social media, Chief Myron Demkiw said that “hateful behaviour should have no place in Toronto.”

“Everyone deserves to feel safe in our great city,” he said.

Anyone with information is being asked to contact investigators at their local division or submit a tip anonymously to Crime Stoppers. Top Stories

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