The mayor of Winnipeg, Canada has called on a local not-for-profit to disinvite Women’s March co-leader Linda Sarsour from a panel event scheduled for Friday over the allegations of anti-Semitism against her.
Flanked by representatives from local Jewish organization, mayor Brian Bowman said in a press conference on Tuesday that Sarsour’s history of “racialized identity politics” and criticism of Israel meant she shouldn’t be invited to speak at an event organized by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.
“It’s less about the speaker than the social planning council providing that platform and the message it sends to the Jewish community and the community as a whole,” Bowman said, according to the CBC.
Both Bowman and the local Jewish federation said that they had tried to meet privately with the host organization and try to convince them to disinvite Sarsour, according to TheJ.ca, a Canadian Jewish news site.
The event, called “Sorry Not Sorry: Unapologetically Working for Social Justice,” is meant to commemorate the SPCW’s 100th anniversary, and Sarsour is expected to talk about her experiences as an activist fighting policies like stop-and-frisk, not the state of Israel.
Executive director Kate Kehler told the Winnipeg Free Press that they wouldn’t have invited Sarsour to speak if they thought she was anti-Semitic. “We understand there are people in the Jewish community who adamantly feel that way but there are also a great many people in the Jewish community who support this event, who want to hear what she has to say.” Indeed, a leader of a group called Independent Jewish Voices-Winnipeg defended Sarsour’s invitation in a statement released by the organization.
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Sarsour is a supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel, and has been accused of claiming that Jews have dual loyalties. Sarsour apologized last year for the Women’s March’s handling of allegations of anti-Semitism against her and other movement leaders.