Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

October 20, 2008 10:00 ET

Report From Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center Reveals Internet Hate Sites on the Rise; Center Honours Local Police Chiefs for Their Ongoing Support of Tolerance, Justice and Human Rights

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 20, 2008) -

Attn: News/National/Assignment

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies (FSWC), a UN-accredited Canadian organization promoting tolerance, justice and human rights, honoured local police chiefs Armand La Barge of York Region and Bill Blair of Toronto today, for their leadership roles in enforcing Canada's anti-hate crime laws and their commitment to officer sensitivity training. Chiefs Blair and La Barge have strongly insisted that such crimes be thoroughly investigated and prosecuted. In doing so, they have focused their work on eliminating technology-based crimes, hate crimes and the threat of terrorism. The recognition ceremony was held during the launch of the Center's Digital Terrorism and Hate 2.0, an annual report with interactive CD identifying some 8,000 online sources of hate and terrorism.

"Chief La Barge and Chief Blair demonstrate determination and a commitment to reduce hate crimes, promoting community education about the consequences hate campaigns can have on the lives of innocent people in Toronto and the GTA," said Avi Benlolo, president and CEO, FSWC. "We honour them for promoting tolerance and human rights at a time when Internet hate appears to be on the rise in Canada and beyond."

The Center's 2008 report on digital hate and terrorism reveals that as the number of Internet users has grown, so has online extremism. The 2008 report identifies over 8,000 hate and terrorist website postings, representing a 30 per cent increase from last year.

The CD exposes the growing use of the Internet as a propaganda and recruitment tool of major hate groups worldwide such as Hamas, KKK, Al-Qaeda and various neo-Nazi groups. A companion report entitled "iReport - Online Terror + Hate: The First Decade" highlights the origins of online extremism and offers a 10-point action plan to help communities deal with its proliferation.

"The global reach and scope of the Internet, combined with the difficulty monitoring and tracing communications, makes the Internet a prime tool for extremists and terrorists," says Leo Adler, director of national affairs, FSWC. "When a hate site surfaces on a Canadian server, we need the help of everyday people to report them to the abuse departments of relevant Internet Service Providers. Without an official complaint, we can't effect change."

Extremists are using new strategies and tactics to spread their messages online, including games, videos on demand, blogs, discussion boards and popular networking sites such as Facebook, YouTube and Second Life.

The Digital Terrorism and Hate CD is distributed to every member of parliament as well as provincial justice ministers. Participants in the Center's Glassman Tools for Tolerance® programs(i), including police officers and educators also receive a copy. The Center's representatives distribute the CD at speaking engagements about tolerance, involving hundreds of secondary school students, college students and community members.

The CD is available to the public upon request.

About Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies is a Canadian human rights organization dedicated to fostering tolerance and understanding through community involvement, educational outreach and social action. It has 25,000 members across Canada, and confronts important contemporary issues including racism, anti-Semitism, terrorism and genocide. The Center is affiliated with the world-wide, Los Angeles-based Simon Wiesenthal Center, an accredited non-government organization with status at international agencies, including the United Nations, UNESCO, OSCE and the Council of Europe. With over 400,000 members of all faiths around the world, the Simon Wiesenthal Center has offices in New York, Miami, Paris, Jerusalem, Buenos Aires and Toronto. Simon Wiesenthal died in 2005 after devoting his life to preserving the memories of the victims of the Holocaust, while simultaneously seeking justice for the war criminals. Visit: www.fswc.ca.

(i)Glassman Tools for Tolerance offers transformational workplace learning and leadership development. Set in state-of-the-art training facilities - both at the Tom and Anna Koffler Tolerance Training Centre at the Toronto headquarters of FSWC and at the UN recognized, award-winning Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles, Calif. - the program bridges personal, local and global issues, challenging participants to redefine their professional roles in today's increasingly complex and changing world. The programs are experiential and learner-centered, and integrate a combination of innovative learning technologies, guest speakers, workshop formats and advanced curricula to ensure participants achieve personal and professional growth in a results-oriented group process.

Contact Information

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    Lawrence Stevenson, APR
    (416) 341-9929 x222 or Cell: (416) 554-4545
    Email: lawrence@torchiacom.com