Cops warn rabbi about hosting activist Pamela Geller Sun TV, May 1st, 2013
TORONTO -- York Regional Police threatened to remove a rabbi as one of the force's chaplains if he hosted a controversial anti-Islamist speaker at his Thornhill, Ont., synagogue.
Insp. Ricky Veerappan of the force's diversity, equity and inclusion bureau, confirmed he and officers from the force's hate crimes unit met with Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue on Tuesday.
They expressed concern about an upcoming talk to be given by Pamela Geller, a vocal critic of radical Islam. She's protested past plans to build a mosque near Ground Zero in New York City, and has posted anti-jihad messages in that city's subway system.
Subsequent to his meeting with police, Kaplan cancelled Geller's May 13 talk, which was sponsored by the Jewish Defence League (JDL) -- a hard-line advocacy group which had rented space in Kaplan's synagogue for the event.
"I think the police are turning a blind eye to who they should be keeping an eye on," said the JDL's Meir Weinstein, referring to radical Islamists. Weinstein said another location will be chosen for Geller's appearance.
Veerappan said he told Kaplan that Geller's speech "would not be endorsed by York Regional Police" and that the rabbi's role as a force chaplain would be thrown into question if he were to allow the event.
"If he did (host Geller), then we'd have to reassess our relationship with (Kaplan)," Veerappan said. "We serve the needs of the entire community. Some of the stuff that Ms. Geller speaks about runs contrary to the values of York Regional Police and the work we do in engaging our communities."
Veerappan said a member of York's Muslim community, whom he wouldn't identify, brought Geller's scheduled talk to the attention of police.
York police enlist eight chaplains of different faiths to counsel police officers and their families. Among them is a Muslim chaplain, Imam Abdul Hai Patel.
A Geller speech scheduled for early April at the Great Neck Synagogue in Long Island, N.Y., was also cancelled.
In March, the University of Toronto hosted controversial Muslim lecturer Tariq Ramadan, who has also spoken in Toronto at the annual Islamic faith conference, Reviving the Islamic Spirit. In October, Pakistani politician Imran Khan, a controversial critic of the U.S. war on terror, spoke in Brampton, Ont. Leila Khaled, a Palestinian revolutionary from the 1970s, is set speak at University of British Columbia on May 4.