Nenshi claims opponents' supporters driven by racist ideology in Facebook video
90-second video was an appeal for support from Calgary's Pakistani community
A video of incumbent mayor Naheed Nenshi appealing for support is getting quite the reaction — from some of his mayoral opponents.
The video was posted to Facebook by Mashhood Qazi on Friday but was later removed from public view.
In it, Nenshi makes a plea for support in a message to Calgary's Pakistani community, suggesting some of his opponents' supporters may be driven by racist ideology.
"There are forces out there in the community that are supporting my opponents that really want us to go backward," he says in the 90-second video.
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"They don't want a city that is so inclusive of everyone, and it is absolutely incumbent on us, to hold on to the city we're proud of, to make sure that we vote," Nenshi adds.
"And we know that they are using a lot of technology to get people who don't believe in diversity, to get people who might be racist, or haters, out to vote. So we have to make sure we vote in even greater numbers."
Nenshi's campaign manager, Zain Velji, says he's referring to online trolls.
A cursory search of social media reveals numerous accounts, many of them anonymous, attacking Nenshi for his Muslim faith.
"What we are seeing is attacks being drawn on a certain line on a partisan basis, attacks being drawn on a certain line based on the background and frankly, based on several mannerisms of the candidate," Velji said.
'The nature of where things are'
Some of Nenshi's challengers are taking offense to that notion.
Mayoral hopeful and former city councillor Andre Chabot says Nenshi mentioning his opponents in that context was unfair.
"It suggests that we are all in collusion somehow and doing something nefarious," he said.
Fellow mayoral candidate Bill Smith, a Calgary lawyer and former president of the Progressive Conservative Party, says his campaign hasn't been immune to online trolls either.
"It troubles me," he said. "I don't spend a lot of time reading the comments anymore because it can be rather hurtful but unfortunately, it's the nature of where things are these days."
Recent polls have shown Nenshi trailing Smith by as much as 17 points.
Election day is Oct. 16.
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