Mayor calls for removal of 'anti-Semitic' guest from Winnipeg event
Mayor Brian Bowman is calling on the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg to make some changes to its upcoming "Sorry, not Sorry: Unapologetically Working for Social Justice" event this Friday. Specifically, he's asking them to remove a speaker named Linda Sarsour.
The American political activist helped organize the 2017 women's march on Washington. And was earlier a surrogate for Bernie Sanders.
But it's her own words that have made her a lightning rod for controversy, accused by some critics of being anti-semitic and sympathetic to terrorists. "Sarsour has echoed the age old anti-Semitic trope that Jews are disloyal to their countries of residence and citizenship, by stating Jews and others often choose their allegiance to Israel over their commitment to democracy and free speech." said Ran Ukashi from B'Nai Brith.
Sarsour is one of three invited speakers at an upcoming panel discussion put on by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg and the Canadian Muslim Women's Institute. Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman says they shouldn't give Sarsour a platform. "It sends a message by the Social Planning Council to the broader community which i think undermines our efforts to build bridges between our community."
Bowman is asking the Planning Council to recind her invitation. "We can't right now," said Planning Council Executive Director Kate Kehler. "Because if we do, then the only thing that happens is that she is not heard." Kehler says they invited Sarsour because she has had a tremendous history building movements across cultures, and "being effective getting progressive policy changes, such as "Stop and Frisk" in New York City.”
Kehler says she doesn't believe Sarsour is a hate speaker, and has a right to be heard. "When things are shut down that quickly, what happens is the problem doesn't go away," said Kehler. "They're just underground."
Still, Mayor Bowman says he hopes the Social Planning Council will hear his appeal, and reconsider their decision to invite Sarsour.