Silent Movement On Toronto Street

Posters on lampposts condemning discrimination
Rahman Mohamed

The war in Syria has brought many actions to Toronto including funds being raised by the Assyrian Chaldean Syriac Student Union (ACSSU), raising awareness of Syrian culture and current survival conditions, and displaying the life of a Syrian refugee by imitating it.   Recently a silent movement has appeared; a series of posters has appeared on lampposts at Spadina, south of Bloor.  The Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre is at the corner of Spadina and Bloor, across from the TTC Spadina Station.  Further down the street is the University of Toronto Multi-Faith Centre.  Along the way there are a series of posters promoting acceptance of Muslims and encouraging an end to fascism
Featuring silhouettes and short text a set of three simple paper posters are seen along Spadina on lampposts covering regular sale and help wanted signs.

One features an image of Donald Trump speaking with Vladimir Putin with “NO Rationalization NO Normalization NO Collaboration” above.  A second features two fighters.  They are bordered in a circle with the words “GOOD NIGHT WHITE PERSON” between “SMASH” above and “FASCISM” below.  One of the fighters is shown wearing a swastika, the symbol of Nazi Germany, on the back while being kicked in the chest by the second.  The third poster is an image of a women wearing a hijab (a headscarf covering her hair, forehead, and neck) with the words “EVERYONE IS WELCOME HERE” above her.

Many of the “Smash Fascism” posters have been vandalised – ripped and torn.  On the “Welcome” poster some have cheeks darkened; one shows the drawing of a beard on the women with the words “It’s because of people who insult these cultures there needs to be an understanding of what it is to be WELCOME! #stopthehate”.  An arrow points from the words to the face.  #Stopthehate on Twitter includes a variety of Tweets ranging from “stop hating Justin Bieber”, support for LGBTQ, Tweets against discrimination, and Tweets against Donald Trump.

2017 has seen discrimination in Canada.  In Toronto swastikas and anti-Semitic messages appeared at York University earlier in March.  A movement has appeared to eliminate religious accommodation in schools.  On March 29 CBC reported a man ripping out pages from Quran and speaking shouting Islamophobic statements at a board meeting.  Kevin J. Johnston posted a video to YouTube on March 29 offering a $1000 reward for a video of Muslim students praying in a Peel region school.  Saying that if the video brought to him is in Arabic and after being translated has hate speech the one who tapes will be given $1000 and be able to wear a mask when receiving the cash.  He condemns Muslim prayers using gender equality (women being forced behind men and menstruating women not being allowed) and Imams and students speaking Arabic to incite hate against Christians and Jews.

In January there was an attack on a mosque in Quebec.  In response to the shooting in Quebec vigils were held across Canada by multiple faith groups and cities, not just at Mosques; Canadians showed solidarity.  Alexandre Bissonnette has been charged with both murder and attempted murder.

Across North America there have been both discriminatory and anti-discriminatory actions. Through 2016 the “Black Lives Matter” movement has grown across Canada and the United States.   The Hashtag “#JewsAndArabsRefuseToBeEnemies is still used on Twitter.


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