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"Compassion, justice and a renewal of our pledge against hatred should mark this day of mourning", says Chief Commissioner Keith Norton

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September 14, 2001

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For immediate publication

Toronto - Commenting on the horrible tragedy of September 11th, the Chief Commissioner of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, Mr Keith Norton, issued a call to civic, religious and community leaders "to jointly take leadership in the fight against hatred and to be vigilant against any backlash which might be directed against innocent persons or communities. It is surely time for a show of solidarity, especially among our major religious groups, to affirm that acts of violence motivated by hate are not justified by the teachings of any faith."

Following the shocking events of Sept. 11th, the Chief Commissioner used his first public speaking engagement to express his heartfelt compassion for the victims.

"Whatever the motivation might have been, the horrible tragedy which occurred on Tuesday can only be regarded as an atrocity perpetrated against all of humanity. It has sent shock waves around the world and brought together world leaders in unanimous condemnation and unprecedented show of solidarity."

"Every effort must be made to bring any surviving perpetrators to justice along with any who aided and abetted them but it is important that justice and not revenge be the goal, however angry we all are."

"Let us individually and collectively give support to those who have suffered so horribly from this senseless act. We should also urge our governments, while seeking justice, to seize this moment of solidarity to redouble our efforts to build bridges of good will and understanding, and to increase efforts to resolve those situations in other parts of the world which provide an excuse for the hatred, which can lead to such heinous crimes."

"Here at home, while we are each dealing with our anger at what has happened, we must guard against any backlash which might be directed against innocent persons or communities who might be related by faith, race or ethnicity with any of the perpetrators. This would only feed the spiral of intolerance. Rather, let us of all backgrounds reach out to our fellow citizens with respect for their dignity and humanity and join together in a condemnation of violence."

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François Larsen