Letter: Platforming hate is unacceptable

File graphic Carl Bindman

To the Concordia University community and readers of The Link,

I am writing this letter to address a serious oversight on my part in the preparation and publication of a recent article.

In the 11th issue of The Link's 44th volume, released on March 5, 2024, both digitally and in print, I wrote an article titled “Student kicked off campus for peaceful protest.” This letter stands as a formal apology regarding this article. 

In 2019, Ray Coelho, the student in question, was previously associated with the Canadian Nationalist Party, an organization with far-right leanings and troubling ideologies. It has also come to light that Mr. Coelho specifically has expressed antisemitic views and taken actions that starkly conflict with the values of diversity, inclusivity, and respect that we at The Link hold dear. This includes harmful rhetoric and associations that have no place in our society, let alone within the pages of our newspaper.

It was only after publication that this information came to my attention, as well as the editorial team at The Link.  

I acknowledge my lapse in judgment to conduct a thorough background check on Mr. Coelho that resulted in providing a platform for ideologies that are not only hateful but dangerous. This oversight contradicts the very essence of responsible journalism and undermines the trust placed in us as a source of news and information.

I extend my deepest apologies, first and foremost, to the Jewish community at Concordia and throughout Montreal. 

Rhetoric similar to that used by Mr. Coelho has contributed to the spread of antisemitic views. These views have historically led to significant and lasting harm to Jewish communities worldwide, as they have been systematically oppressed, harmed, and marginalized by this hatred.

I reiterate the importance of standing in solidarity against all forms of bigotry, and I regret any pain or fear that my article may have inadvertently caused.

Furthermore, I want to apologize to the readers and supporters of The Link for failing to uphold the ethical standards rightfully expected from us. My actions did not reflect the publication’s dedication to advocacy, inclusivity, and anti-oppression.

Additionally, upon recognizing this lapse in fact-checking, the masthead at The Link is using this incident as reason to enhance our editorial processes.

To that end, we are undertaking a thorough internal review to identify and rectify any shortcomings in our verification standards to ensure that our commitment to accuracy and integrity is not just promised, but practiced. We are also implementing enhanced training for our editorial team, focusing on rigorous background checks and developing a deeper sensitivity towards the complex impact of our reporting. This initiative is designed for our content to uphold our values and make sure it serves our community constructively.

In moving forward, I reaffirm my commitment to a rigorous standard of verification and skepticism in my reporting, regardless of the story I am granted the privilege to cover. 

The Link’s mission to offer a platform free from hate and discrimination is one I hold in the highest regard, and I will strive to protect and advance this mission in all my future work.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from this mistake and to continue contributing to our community in a manner that promotes understanding and respect. Thank you for your understanding and for allowing me the chance to rectify this error.

With sincerity and a commitment to change,

Iness Rifay

Co-News Editor, The Link