B.C. Civil Liberties Association executive director Harsha Walia at centre of social media firestorm

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      An inflammatory tweet by a high-profile Vancouver activist has unleashed a torrent of hateful responses.

      Harsha Walia, executive director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, declared "Burn it all down" after VICE World News reported that two more Catholic churches had been torched.

      Today when she opened up her direct messages on Twitter, she was met with a blast of criticism.

      On the weekend, Walia justified her tweet by declaring that the phrases "Let it burn" and "burn it down" are an "expression of rage & sadness that many survivors in the dtes [Downtown Eastside] are saying".

      She also stated that "burn it down" is a very common phrase, meaning "a call to dismantle all structures of violence, including the state, settler-colonialism, empire, the border etc."

      Walia, an outspoken advocate for immigrants' and Indigenous people's rights, has since received some warm messages of support over Twitter, including from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs.

      "UBCIC stands in strong solidarity with @HarshaWalia in condemning the brutally gruesome genocide of residential 'school' system by Canada and Church while crown stole FN land," the organization tweeted. "She is a highly respected and valued ally; we are grateful for her ongoing support and leadership.

      Another who stands in solidarity with her is Victor Wong, a longtime activist against racism directed at Chinese Canadians.

      One activist who disagreed with Walia's tweet, however, is Gurpreet Singh, who contributes articles to Straight.com.

      That's because he feels that any message that could be interpreted as encouraging setting fire to churches. According to Singh, this could be exploited by Hindu activists in India to justify further attacks on Christians in India.

      A Vancouver activist close to Walia, Harjap Grewal, countered that "Hindu right media should not be the guide for obtaining justice for indigenous people".

      "These liberal talking points of equating violence (an act represents of resistance represents another act of hate) really just allows the the right wing to get liberals dancing to their tune," Grewal stated.

      Grewal later stated that the right wing "is focused on churches while being apologists for the crimes against humanity they committed with those churches.

      "Liberals believe everything is superficially equal because they do not believe in these imbalances of power & as a result stand with the oppressors."

      Singh, however stuck to his position.

      "I disagree with her tweet and I stand by that," he stated. "But that doesn't mean that I support those who are trying to malign her. Shame on anyone making racist and misogynistic comments about her."


      Independent Jewish Voices tweeted its support for Walia.