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Former UN peacekeeper staging daily protests against London mosque

Written by Joanne Hill

June 28, 2011 Jewish Tribune

LONDON, ON – A London resident is staging daily protests against a local mosque, which he claims has raised funds for, and sent a delegate on, the Canadian Boat to Gaza (the Tahrir). A spokesperson for the mosque, however, denies the accusations.

Mark Vandermaas is a civil rights activist who served as a United Nations Peacekeeper in the Middle East in 1978. Vandermaas told the Jewish Tribune in an interview that he wants to raise awareness of the danger of doing anything that will help Hamas.

“This protest is not anti-Sharia or anti-Islam; it’s about the fact that a religious institution in my town is raising money to make it easier for a terrorist organization to get weapons and that’s not acceptable.”

Vandermaas became concerned when he saw a notice on the Canadian Boat to Gaza’s web site about a fundraising dinner which was held in the mosque’s gymnasium on Feb. 5, and saw the mosque’s former Operations Manager Muhammed Hamou listed as one of the people who will sail on the boat.

Adeeb Hassan, chair of the board for the London Muslim Mosque, told the Tribune in a telephone interview that the mosque was not involved in the dinner, did not promote it and has nothing to do with Hamou’s participation with the Tahrir.

“The group that’s sponsoring the flotilla from Canada rented the facility from us,” Hassan said. “We did not hold a fundraiser and we did not send a delegate.”

Hassan said Hamou is not representing the mosque.

“He has gone from his own resources, of his own will.”

Hassan added that he did not know Hamou would be on board the Tahrir until after Hamou had left the mosque’s employ.

Vandermaas’s protest does not focus solely on the mosque.

“Israel was created by a 1947 United Nations resolution passed by the General Assembly. That really, to me, makes Israel the most legitimate country in the world.... The Hamas Charter (was) condemned by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2006 for its call to kill Jews and obliterate the state of Israel. A lot of people don’t know these facts.... I just felt compelled to come here and share these basic facts to make people aware because it seems there’s this real move to almost delegitimize Israel and Jews.... I don’t want a repeat of World War II.”

“As Christians, we can’t just sit back in our churches,” he added. Gary McHale, a Christian who joined the protest on Saturday, agreed. “It’s got to be condemned,” McHale said, “because if we don’t stop it at this stage, then when do you actually take a stand?.... In many ways, historically, that has been the problem: good people will sit back far too long and then the problem gets worse and worse.”

London resident Jacob Peretz, who was born and raised in Israel, said he came out to show his support for the protestors even though it was Shabbat.

He said of the Palestinians, “These people are oppressed, there is no question, but not by Jews. They were oppressed for years by Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon: all the Arab countries. They kept them in camps just for one, single purpose: to get at Israel.”