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Islamic School Apologizes For Anti-Semitic Material On Website

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A Toronto Islamic school that is under police investigation after anti-Semitic teachings were found on its website is apologizing "unreservedly" for its curriculum material, which is now being reviewed.

The Toronto District School Board is also reviewing a complaint that the East End Madrassah was teaching children that "treacherous" Jews "conspired to kill" the Islamic Prophet Mohammed. It also contrasted Islam with "the Jews and the Nazis."

The complaint came from the Friends of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which found the material on the school's website.

The East End Madrassah, a Sunday school that rents space in a Scarborough school, is run by a Thornhill, Ont., mosque. It has since taken the material off the website, but copies are still available online.

"It shocked me and sent chills down my spine when I first saw it," said David Spiro, the Greater Toronto co-chair for the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs.

"That in itself was disturbing, but it does raise a host of other questions about where it came from, where it's being used, how it's being used and by whom it's being used."

Premier lauds police investigation

Those who run the madrassah said in a release Monday that the school's curriculum "is not intended to promote hatred towards any individual or group of people," and that the offending material "should never have been a part of our curriculum."

"We unreservedly apologize to the Jewish community for the unintentional offence that the item has caused."

A team of scholars at the school is reviewing "all texts and material being used in the curriculum to ensure that our teachings are conveying the right message."

But police in York region north of Toronto continue to investigate, and Premier Dalton McGuinty says he's glad they're doing so.

"It's a big province. We can find room for a lot of things. But we can't find room for hatred or intolerance," said McGuinty, who is expected to meet with Israeli President Shimon Peres on Wednesday.

The school has a permit from the Toronto District School Board to teach its lessons from a rented school space at David and Mary Thomson Collegiate at Lawrence Avenue East and Brimley Road.

The TDSB said it will wait until after the police investigation is finished to decide whether to take any action. A spokesman said tenants who break the law — by promoting hatred for example — could be denied a permit to use TDSB space.