A video of a man speaking about banning the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in Canada amidst diplomatic tensions with India is viral online with a false claim that the Canadian government is set to ban the Hindu organisation.
BOOM found that the man speaking in the video is the head of an independent NGO, not a Canadian government official.
In the video, the man is heard making 4 demands: recalling Canada's ambassador to India, expelling the Indian ambassador to Canada, freezing trade negotiations between the two countries, and banning the RSS.
A diplomatic standoff ensued between India and Canada after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused India of playing a role in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar in June this year, an allegation strongly rejected by India. Nijjar, 45, was a Canadian-Sikh leader known for advocating a separate Sikh homeland, or Khalistan. He was shot dead in his car by two masked men in Surrey, Canada. Following Trudeau's speech, Canada stripped an Indian diplomat of their post in the country and India retaliated by expelling a Canadian diplomat and suspending all Canadian visas.
The video claiming to show a Canadian government official proposing a ban on the RSS is viral in this context.
An X user shared the clip with a caption claiming, "RSS ban in Canada, RSS will be banned in India (too) after 2024 elections."
(Original text in Hindi: "कनाडा में RSS बैन, 2024 चुनाव के बाद इंडिया में करेंगे आरएसएस बैन।")
Similar claims were also being shared on Facebook.
BOOM found that the man in the video is the head of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) - an independent organisation, and the statement did not come from an official of the Canadian government.
We watched the video closely and found a watermark of the TikTok account that shared the original video, @nccmuslims. A search for this account on TikTok led us to the original 1-minute long video shared on September 20, 2023. The caption detailed how the CEO of NCCM, Stephen Brown, made the statement jointly with the World Sikh Organisation of Canada.
A search for Stephen Brown of NCCM led us to his page on the organisation's website, and the 'about' section of the website detailed how NCCM was an independent, non-partisan NGO.
Click here to view.
The website did not mention any affiliation with the Canadian government.
We also found a report by Al Jazeera published on September 19, 2023, titled 'Sikh, Muslim leaders call for action as Canada probes Sikh leader’s killing'. The feature image of this report also showed Stephen Brown in the background.
According to the report, Sikh and Muslim leaders in Canada called on the government to take increased action to prevent crimes against the communities in Canada following the news of the alleged involvement of India in the killing of Hardeep Singh Nijjar. The leaders made this appeal at a press conference organised in the House of Commons in Ottawa to highlight the threats faced by the Sikh community in Canada.. Mukhbir Singh, board member of the World Sikh Organisation of Canada, also accused the Indian government of targeting Sikhs with "espionage and disinformation."
The report also carried posts from NCCM's official X page, which has been withheld in India. Below is a screenshot of the tweet with the same demands made at the press conference by the NCCM and the World Sikh Organisation of Canada:
Click here for an archive.
We also found Stephen Brown's address uploaded on NMMC's YouTube channel on September 20.
We further searched for any notification on the website of Canada's Ministry of Foreign Affairs regarding a ban on RSS and found that it did not exist. We also ran a search for any related statements made by Justin Trudeau and Canada's Foregin Minister Mélanie Joly and did not find any results.