The news this morning: BLMTO co-founder Yusra Khogali pushes back against critics, Ontario's education minister apologizes to teachers, and a Toronto filmmaker is released from Iranian prison.
A co-founder of Black Lives Matter Toronto responded over the weekend to last week’s criticism of a two-month-old tweet she sent from her personal Twitter account. Yusra Khogali pointed to the dramatic imbalance in media coverage of BLMTO’s two-week campout at police headquarters and her tweet, which was immediately and widely reported on after conservative radio and print journalism personality Jerry Agar found and shared it. In the tweet, Khogali wrote: “Plz Allah give me strength to not cuss/kill these men and white folks out here today. Plz plz plz.” She later described the tweet as “a turn of phrase, a rhetorical flourish,” and wrote that Agar was attempting to delegitimize the movement, which subsequent media coverage of the supposed controversy played into. BLMTO dismantled its camp at Toronto Police Service headquarters after meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne last week and seeing City council vote to examine police accountability.
Provincial Education Minister Liz Sandals has apologized to the Ontario English Catholic Teacher’s Association (and potentially to other teachers’ unions) for implying that teachers began abusing their sick days as a result of pay cuts. Earlier this month, Sandals told the Globe and Mail that “there’s no reason to believe that they’re actually sicker than they were two years ago,” referring to the idea that teachers have begun using all of their allotted sick days each year whether they need to or not. In 2012 the provincial government imposed contracts that included pay cuts, a cut in annual sick days from 20 to 11, and the end of banking sick days for a partial cash payout at retirement. A ministry spokesperson said Sandals has apologized to all teachers’ unions.
Toronto filmmaker Mostafa Azizi has been released from an Iranian prison, where he served one year of an eight-year sentence from charges of insulting the national leader and spreading anti-Iran propaganda. Azizi’s family believes the charges relate to social media posts he made while in Canada, where he was a permanent resident. If true, that could have a huge impact on people considering either travelling to Iran or criticizing the country. “Expressing your opinion on Facebook shouldn’t be cause for putting people in jail in the first place,” said Azizi’s son Arash. For now, Azizi remains in Iran; his Canadian permanent residency expired while he was detained.
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