Those of you who have been following my articles on media inquiries to the Toronto Star for their publication of an article on October 22, 2017, here is another chapter in the saga.
This inquiry is about social media posts. It seems the Toronto Star did not investigate most of Ayman Elkasrawy’s posts in what appears to be an attempt to whitewash the Imam of the prayers he recited “purify al-Aqsa Mosque from the filth of the Jews” and “slay them one by one”.
Are the omissions just laziness? Sloppiness? Inexperience? Or, are the omissions intended to protect the narrative that the Imam at the Masjid really had no animus toward the enemies of Islam including the Jews/ Zionists/ Israelis?
One is left wondering what ethical means at the Toronto Star. Their response to my inquiry was the usual. SILENCE.
John Boynton, Publisher; Bob Hepburn, Media inquiries; Kathy English, Public Editor; Jennifer Yang, reporter.
The Toronto Star dedicated four pages, including its front page, in an attempt to exonerate Ayman Elkasrawy, an imam at “Masjid Toronto” mosque, from anti-Jewish and anti-infidel prayers during Ramadan 2016. It is filled with errors in fact and the gross omission of facts.
The article was written by Jennifer Yang and approved by Kathy English, the Star’s public editor.
I have sent several media inquiries to the Publisher, John Bolton; Bob Hepburn media inquiries; Kathy English and Jennifer Yang. None responded.
Responding to a media inquiry from Toronto Star reporter, Jennifer Yang, Lt. Col.(Ret) Jonathan Halevi wrote the following on July 25, 2017:
“Ayman Elkasrawy’s posts on social media may help you a great deal in your research.”
In her article the Toronto Star’s Jennifer Yang emphasized that the “context is key in determining the appropriate translation.”
Lt Col.(Ret) Halevi told Yang to investigate social media posts. It appears that the Toronto Star did not investigate all of his social media posts.
Yang had written in the article that Elkasrawy said he agreed to speak to the Star because “I have nothing to hide.”
Let’s investigate that statement.
Here are the references in the Toronto Star’s article to Ayman Elkasrawy’s posts on social media followed by the findings of my investigation:
Ayman Elkasrawy’s Facebook page
Toronto Star: “Elkasrawy deleted his account shortly after the story broke.” But did the Toronto Star investigate his tweets, and YouTube?
In my investigation I’ve learned that as of November 20, 2017 Ayman Elkasrawy’s Facebook was not deleted as Toronto Star claimed but deactivated. Facebook message read: “This isn’t an active profile.” Facebook explains the differences between deactivating and deleting accounts – “If you deactivate your account: You can reactivate whenever you want. People can’t see your timeline or search for you. Some information may remain visible to others (example: messages you sent). If you delete your account: You can’t regain access once it’s deleted.”
Ayman Elkasrawy’s Twitter account
Toronto Star: “His Twitter feed is dominated by Egyptian and Middle Eastern politics. He mostly retweets accounts he follows, including one called “Friends of Al-Aqsa.”
On July 24, 2017, the day Jennifer Yang sent the first media inquiry to Jonathan Halevi, Ayman Elkasrawy’s Twitter account contained 263 tweets and 13 Likes. 59 were Elkasrawy’s own tweets (22.4%) and 204 retweets.
Jennifer Yang stated:
“He mostly retweets accounts he follows, including one called “Friends of Al-Aqsa.”
I found that Elkaserawy retweeted only 1 tweet of “Friends of Al Aqsa”. Jennifer Yang did not mention that Elkaserawy retweeted 8 tweets of محمد منتصر @montaseregy, the official spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood and 2 tweets of Mohammad Morsi, the first Muslim Brotherhood prime minister in Egypt. The name of Mohammad Morsi, appears 19 times in Elkasrawy’s tweets and retweets. In 4 tweets Elkasrawy stated: “Morsi is my President” (originally in Arabic).
Yang’s only reference to the content of Elkasrawy’s tweets was summarized in the following line: “his Twitter feed is dominated by Egyptian and Middle Eastern politics.” Toronto Star DID NOT provide any information about Elkasrawy’s tweets that dealt with the Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammad Morsi, who headed the Muslim Brotherhood government and the use of word “Jew” by Elkasrawy. It also failed to mention the content of the tweets of the official spokesperson of the Muslim Brotherhood that Elkasrawy chose to retweet, including the excerpts from a statement by the scholars of the Muslim nation on the legitimate fight against the new Egyptian regime that overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government and the “Zionists”.
On May 27, 2015 Ayman Elkasrawy retweeted the following message byمحمد منتصر @montaseregy (originally in Arabic):
“This is our religion and these are our scholars. Egypt is calling, we will not go back. Being loyal to the Zionist aggressors, supporting and protecting them and being hostile to the Palestinian resistance/ struggle/ fight [muqawamah] and conspiring against it, and imposing a siege on it by destroying Sinai [Peninsula] and displacing its people, is a betrayal of the religion [Islam] and the homeland [Egypt].”
U.S. Department of State’s report (2016) on the terrorism originating from the Sinai Peninsula states the following: “In Egypt, terrorists conducted numerous deadly attacks on government, military, and civilian targets throughout the country. Several high-profile attacks at the end of the year indicated the threat level remained high despite a focus on counterterrorism by the government. ISIS continued its terrorist campaign in the Sinai through the local ISIS-affiliate, ISIL-Sinai Province (ISIL-SP, formerly Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis). The Egyptian Armed Forces conducted a counterterrorism campaign against ISIL-SP in North Sinai, known as Operation “Right of the Martyr” starting in September 2015 through 2016.”
On April 2, 2013 Ayman Elkasrawy used the word the “Jew” in allegedly derogatory context. In this tweet Elkasrawy mocked Egyptian television host Dr. Bassem Youssef by saying among other things that “the Jew is defending him.” Elkasrawy didn’t elaborate on the identity of “the Jew”, but from the context it may refer to Israel or to Abdul Fattah Sissi, then the Chief Commander of the Egyptian Armed Forces and Minister of Defense. Within Egyptian Islamist circles Sissi is called in a derogatory context “the son of the Jewish woman”.
Ayman Elkasrawy’s YouTube account
No reference in Toronto Star’s article.
As of November 13, 2017, Ayman Elkasrawy “Liked” the following videos on his YouTube account:
“I love the Muslim Brotherhood” – The song clip features a slide with the Muslim Brotherhood official motto: “Allah is our objective; the Prophet [Mohammad] is our leader; the Quran is our law; Jihad is our way; dying in the way of Allah is our highest hope.”
“9/11 – Israel’s Advance Knowledge of Attacks” – This conspiracy theory video was later removed by YouTube. It is available here.
“The Lion of Palestine, the martyr Abdel Aziz Rantisi. Words that history will preserve forever. We will win, Allah willing” [originally in Arabic] – The almost 9 minute video clip features a compilation of some of some of the most fiery speeches by Abdel Aziz Al-Rantisi, co-founder of Hamas and later the supreme leader of Hamas (2004). In these speeches Rantisi vowed to continue the jihad against Israel, including by attacking Israeli cities and communities that at that time during the al-Aqsa Intifada were targeted by hundreds of Palestinian suicide bombers and attackers.
“Undermine the security of Israel, like an earthquake” [originally in Arabic] – The song clip was produced by al-Qassam Brigades, the “military” wing of Hamas that is designated by Canada as a terrorist organization. It was was later removed by YouTube, but still available here. The clip features Palestinian rockets attacks on Israel by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The lyrics of the al-Qassam Brigades’ song read: “Attack, carry out operations… kill all Zionists… undermine the security of Israel, set it on fire, destroy it, even its foundations… drive out all Zionists.”
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal’s interview with Al Jazeera in which he justified all types of “struggle/ resistance” against Israel, including the armed struggle.
Al-Qassam Brigades’ video clip on the 26 anniversary of the establishment of Hamas. The video clip (later was removed by YouTube but is available here) features armed operatives of al-Qassam Brigades and its lyrics praise their determination to fight Israel and to liberate Palestine, al-Quds and al-Aqsa Mosque. The clip ends with the following oath chanted by al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives:
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your objective is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “Allah”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your leader is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “The Prophet [Mohammad]”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your law is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “The Quran”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “You way is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “The jihad”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your highest hope is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “Dying in the way of Allah”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your movement is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “Hamas”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ commander: “Your army is”
Al-Qassam Brigades’ operatives: “Al-Qassam [Brigades]”
A video featuring Saudi Imam Muhammad Al-Arifi reciting a supplication in which he said: “O Allah, give victory to the mujahideen ( Muslim fighters for Jihad) in Greater Syria. O Allah give victory to our brothers in Palestine over the usurping Jews.”
Why did the Toronto Star claim that Ayman Elkasrawy’s Facebook account was “deleted” rather than deactivated?
Did the Toronto Star ask Ayman Elkasrawy for an access to his deactivated Facebook account?
The Toronto Star emphasized that the “context is key in determining the appropriate translation.” Why didn’t the Toronto Star ask Ayman Elkasrawy for the reasons that drove him to “delete” his Facebook account shortly after Jonathan Halevi’s article was published?
Why didn’t the Toronto Star provide its readers any content from Ayman Elkasrawy’s Twitter account?
Why didn’t the Toronto Star provide its readers any content from Ayman Elkasrawy’s YouTube account?
I also sent a request to Elkaswary.
To Ayman Elkaswary
You stated: “I have nothing to hide.”
Why did you deactivate your Facebook account a few days after Jonathan Halevi’s article was published?
Did you tell Toronto Star that you “deleted” or deactivated your Facebook account?
Did Toronto Star ask you why you “deleted” your Facebook account? If yes, what did you tell them?
Why did you remove “Likes” from your YouTube account?
Please explain why you Liked and tweeted/ retweeted the below mentioned videos and tweets?
Neither Toronto Star nor Ayman Elkasrawy responded to the media inquiries
These inquiries are about ONE article. ONE. The omission of facts is breathtaking.
From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”