Winnipeg, Canada – A Jewish human rights organization says it is being unfairly targeted in a discrimination complaint that it can’t possibly defend.
Legal counsel for B’nai Brith Canada said the organization has been dogged by a four-year-old complaint to the Manitoba Human Rights Commission where specifics of the alleged wrongdoing have not been spelled out and the complainant never witnessed the alleged incident.
‘‘We’re involved in shadow-boxing,’’ lawyer David Matas said of B’nai Brith’s attempts to defend a complaint of discrimination.
‘‘It’s been 4 1/2 years and we don’t understand why this (complaint) hasn’t been dismissed as frivolous,’’ he said.
In February 2004, prominent Muslim advocate Shahina Siddiqui filed a complaint against B’nai Brith for hosting a counter-terrorism workshop for police, firefighters and paramedics which she said was biased against Muslims.
The workshop had been held the previous October and was given by an internationally renowned firm with expertise in counter-terrorism.
Siddiqui admitted she never attended the workshop, but filed the complaint after hearing comments from those she said had attended.
Matas said the commission staff have told him they’ve interviewed the individuals Siddiqui said passed the comments to her, but the commission refused to disclose the identity of those individuals or what it is they’ve allegedly told the commission.
Matas said B’nai Brith had little involvement in the October 2003 counter-terrorism workshop other than hosting it.
He said the organization was unable to find anything offensive in the presentation and could not locate any individual who believed the presentation was biased against Muslims.
Siddiqui could not be reached for comment and the executive of the Manitoba Human Rights commission did not return calls.