Free Speech Challenged in Canada.--
In what could become the most important free-speech in Canada in decades, a group of current and recent law students from Osgoode Hall have spearheaded an attack on 19 magazine articles and columns critical of radical Islam (and in some cases, of moderate Islam as well) that were published in Maclean’s, Canada’s leading news weekly. First, the students published a report under the auspices of the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) on the articles that offended them: Macleans Magazine: A Case Study Of Media-Propagated Islamophobia.
Then the CIC filed a human rights complaint with federal and provincial authorities against Maclean’s for one article published last year, "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s book America Alone.
Both the Canadian federal and the British Columbia Human Rights panels have agreed to hear the complaints.
I have been unable to find a copy of the complaints online, but the Report that preceded the complaints is available. The Appendix to the Report quotes substantial passages from Steyn’s article that the CIC report found offensive. Most of the last few paragraphs of Steyn's article were singled out by the CIC, so here they are in context:
But in the same three decades as Ulster's "Troubles," the hitherto moderate Muslim populations of south Asia were radicalized by a politicized form of Islam; previously formally un-Islamic societies such as Nigeria became semi-Islamist; and large Muslim populations settled in parts of Europe that had little or no experience of mass immigration.
On the Continent and elsewhere in the West, native populations are aging and fading and being supplanted remorselessly by a young Muslim demographic. Time for the obligatory "of courses": of course, not all Muslims are terrorists — though enough are hot for jihad to provide an impressive support network of mosques from Vienna to Stockholm to Toronto to Seattle. Of course, not all Muslims support terrorists — though enough of them share their basic objectives (the wish to live under Islamic law in Europe and North America) to function wittingly or otherwise as the "good cop" end of an Islamic good cop/bad cop routine. But, at the very minimum, this fast-moving demographic transformation provides a huge comfort zone for the jihad to move around in. And in a more profound way it rationalizes what would otherwise be the nuttiness of the terrorists' demands. An IRA man blows up a pub in defiance of democratic reality — because he knows that at the ballot box the Ulster Loyalists win the elections and the Irish Republicans lose. When a European jihadist blows something up, that's not in defiance of democratic reality but merely a portent of democratic reality to come. He's jumping the gun, but in every respect things are moving his way.
You may vaguely remember seeing some flaming cars on the evening news toward the end of 2005. Something going on in France, apparently. Something to do with — what's the word? — "youths." When I pointed out the media's strange reluctance to use the M-word vis-à-vis the rioting "youths," I received a ton of emails arguing there's no Islamist component, they're not the madrasa crowd, they may be Muslim but they're secular and Westernized and into drugs and rap and meaningless sex with no emotional commitment, and rioting and looting and torching and trashing, just like any normal healthy Western teenagers. These guys have economic concerns, it's the lack of jobs, it's conditions peculiar to France, etc. As one correspondent wrote, "You right-wing shit-for-brains think everything's about jihad."
Actually, I don't think everything's about jihad. But I do think, as I said, that a good 90 per cent of everything's about demography. Take that media characterization of those French rioters: "youths." What's the salient point about youths? They're youthful. Very few octogenarians want to go torching Renaults every night. It's not easy lobbing a Molotov cocktail into a police station and then hobbling back with your walker across the street before the searing heat of the explosion melts your hip replacement. Civil disobedience is a young man's game.
In June 2006, a 54-year-old Flemish train conductor called Guido Demoor got on the Number 23 bus in Antwerp to go to work. Six — what's that word again? — "youths" boarded the bus and commenced intimidating the other riders. There were some 40 passengers aboard. But the "youths" were youthful and the other passengers less so. Nonetheless, Mr. Demoor asked the lads to cut it out and so they turned on him, thumping and kicking him. Of those 40 other passengers, none intervened to help the man under attack. Instead, at the next stop, 30 of the 40 scrammed, leaving Mr. Demoor to be beaten to death. Three "youths" were arrested, and proved to be — quelle surprise! — of Moroccan origin. The ringleader escaped and, despite police assurances of complete confidentiality, of those 40 passengers only four came forward to speak to investigators. "You see what happens if you intervene," a fellow rail worker told the Belgian newspaper De Morgen. "If Guido had not opened his mouth he would still be alive."
No, he wouldn't. He would be as dead as those 40 passengers are, as the Belgian state is, keeping his head down, trying not to make eye contact, cowering behind his newspaper in the corner seat and hoping just to be left alone. What future in "their" country do Mr. Demoor's two children have? My mother and grandparents came from Sint-Niklaas, a town I remember well from many childhood visits. When we stayed with great-aunts and other relatives, the upstairs floors of the row houses had no bathrooms, just chamber pots. My sister and I were left to mooch around cobbled streets with our little cousin for hours on end, wandering aimlessly past smoke-wreathed bars and cafes, occasionally buying frites with mayonnaise. With hindsight it seemed as parochially Flemish as could be imagined. Not anymore. The week before Mr. Demoor was murdered in plain sight, bus drivers in Sint-Niklaas walked off the job to protest the thuggery of the — here it comes again — "youths." In little more than a generation, a town has been transformed.
Of the ethnic Belgian population, some 17 per cent are under 18 years old. Of the country's Turkish and Moroccan population, 35 per cent are under 18 years old. The "youths" get ever more numerous, the non-youths get older. To avoid the ruthless arithmetic posited by Benjamin Franklin, it is necessary for those "youths" to feel more Belgian. Is that likely? Colonel Gadhafi doesn't think so:
There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests. The fifty million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.
On Sept. 11, 2001, the American mainland was attacked for the first time since the War of 1812. The perpetrators were foreign — Saudis and Egyptians. Since 9/11, Europe has seen the London Tube bombings, the French riots, Dutch murders of nationalist politicians. The perpetrators are their own citizens — British subjects, citoyens de la République française. In Linz, Austria, Muslims are demanding that all female teachers, believers or infidels, wear head scarves in class. The Muslim Council of Britain wants Holocaust Day abolished because it focuses "only" on the Nazis' (alleged) Holocaust of the Jews and not the Israelis' ongoing Holocaust of the Palestinians.
How does the state react? In Seville, King Ferdinand III is no longer patron saint of the annual fiesta because his splendid record in fighting for Spanish independence from the Moors was felt to be insensitive to Muslims. In London, a judge agreed to the removal of Jews and Hindus from a trial jury because the Muslim defendant's counsel argued he couldn't get a fair verdict from them. The Church of England is considering removing St. George as the country's patron saint on the grounds that, according to various Anglican clergy, he's too "militaristic" and "offensive to Muslims." They wish to replace him with St. Alban, and replace St. George's cross on the revamped Union Flag, which would instead show St. Alban's cross as a thin yellow streak.
In a few years, as millions of Muslim teenagers are entering their voting booths, some European countries will not be living formally under sharia, but — as much as parts of Nigeria, they will have reached an accommodation with their radicalized Islamic compatriots, who like many intolerant types are expert at exploiting the "tolerance" of pluralist societies. In other Continental countries, things are likely to play out in more traditional fashion, though without a significantly different ending. Wherever one's sympathies lie on Islam's multiple battle fronts the fact is the jihad has held out a long time against very tough enemies. If you're not shy about taking on the Israelis and Russians, why wouldn't you fancy your chances against the Belgians and Spaniards?
"We're the ones who will change you," the Norwegian imam Mullah Krekar told the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet in 2006. "Just look at the development within Europe, where the number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes. Every Western woman in the EU is producing an average of 1.4 children. Every Muslim woman in the same countries is producing 3.5 children." As he summed it up: "Our way of thinking will prove more powerful than yours."
In criticism of these and other passages, the CIC Report comments:
Adopting a fear mongering tone, this article focuses on the influx of Muslim immigrants into Europe and North America. It explicitly and implicitly states that this influx poses a threat to the fabric of Western society, to democracy, and to human rights due to the religious identity and beliefs of Muslims in general. Another significant theme contained in the article is that there is allegedly an ongoing war between Muslims and Non-Muslims, that Muslims are part of a global conspiracy to take over Western societies, and that Muslims in the West need to be viewed through this lens as the enemy. Finally, other all-encompassing and negative generalizations are made about the Muslim population in the West [which the Report goes on to enumerate] . . . .
Canadian Islamic Congress Website Reveals Its Views.--
The Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC) has filed human rights complaints against Maclean’s for publishing an excerpt from Mark Steyn’s America Alone.
The lawyer who filed the complaint, Faisal Joseph, explained his motivations:
"Muslims in this country are getting tired of this," said Joseph, who is representing the congress [CIC]. "What we've noticed since Sept. 11 is that some media out there are publishing false and misleading information and it's gone from talking about Islamic extremists or terrorists to linking the religion to criminality. These kinds of mistruths can cause a backlash . . . (and) deeper divisions between Muslims and non-Muslims."
From a quick perusal of the CIC website, it is interesting how much information the CIC puts forward that Steyn might have made part of his argument. The biggest differences are that the CIC sees increasing Islamic influence positively and Steyn sees it negatively.
1. EVERY ACCOMMODATION IS "REASONABLE"
The traditional populations of European countries are declining as birthrates fall and they must now focus on attracting new immigrants to preserve their economies and infrastructures. Germany is even creating a new ministry of Immigration and Integration in response to this growing 21st-century challenge. Governments are now beginning to reformulate existing policies and plans to encompass the need for direct involvement. Integration is becoming tied to direct federal actions, including responsibility for providing training, addressing discrimination, and meeting the cultural and spiritual needs of new immigrants. This is a virtual sea-change in attitude from the recent past, when immigrants were routinely and falsely accused of not wanting to integrate.
2. MICHAEL ADAMS: AN UNLIKELY UTOPIAN GIVES MEANING TO POLLS
Today, Muslims - numbering nearly 800,000 according to the latest numbers — are "the new other" in our society and the fastest-growing religious and cultural group. As a result, Canadians are seeing more examples than ever of "reasonable accommodation": hijabs on soccer fields, niqabs at the polling booth; or the modest restyling of professional uniforms for everything from the local Tim Horton's server to VIA Rail conductors. . . .
Whatever it is at the core of our collective national psyche, we have made this country the destination of choice for more immigrants - 250,000 annually - than any other on the planet. Today, one in five Canadians is foreign-born and two in five are first- or second- generation offspring of immigrant parents. Only Australia has a higher proportion of foreign-born in its population.
Apart from sheer numbers, perhaps the biggest challenge facing 21st-century Canada is that for the past 15 years, more than half of our new immigrants come from non-Christian nations. We are becoming not only a multi-ethnic nation, but a multi-faith one as well; and among the major non-Christian religions, Islam is one that does not make a formal distinction between the secular and spiritual life as large segments of Christendom once did. A staggering 90% of Canadian Muslims are foreign-born and have forever changed the professional and technological landscape of our nation - most would say for the better.
3. FEAR OF ISLAMIC SCHOOLS BASED ON FALSE STEREOTYPES
Here are some pertinent facts. Islamic schools are operating in just about every province of this country. They are publicly funded in British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec. Yes, Alberta, despite being Prime Minister Stephen Harper's power base, and Quebec, despite sharing Quebec Premier Jean Charest's "safety concerns" for hijab-wearing girls on the soccer field, both fund Islamic schools. . . .
An overwhelming majority of women representing the mainstream Muslim community support faith-based schools. In fact, Muslim mothers usually insist on Islamically educating their children, even though the added expense often imposes genuine strains on parents' limited budgets.
4. RIDLEY CHALLENGES CRITICS WHO CAN’T SEE PAST HIJAB
Once a hard-nosed, hard-drinking Fleet Street reporter, Yvonne Ridley today is a proud, pious and unapologetic Muslim. Islam is "the biggest and best family in the world," she says, but also a family that is deeply misunderstood.
The 48-year-old London-based journalist and political activist brought her campaign against the West and its war on terror to Canada last month, visiting Toronto, Waterloo and Montreal to speak at fundraising dinners for the Canadian Islamic Congress. . . .
Ridley has been called an Islamist dupe and an apologist for terrorism. Remarks attributed to her include a reference to Jewish critics as "those nauseating little Zionists who accuse me of being an anti-Semite" and a characterization of London cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri, who is serving a seven-year prison sentence for soliciting murder and inciting racial hatred, as "quite sweet, really."
Asked prior to her Toronto talk to comment, she denies nothing. Those reported remarks "are regurgitated by people who have an agenda against me," she said. Yes, she called al-Masri sweet, but "that was part of a one- hour, 20-minute talk in which he was featured for about 30 seconds." She was quoted "totally out of context," she says. . . .
Would she characterize a Muslim who calls for violence as un-Islamic or radical? "Historically," Ridley points out, "violence has worked." The Irish Republican Army, for example, "bombed their way to the negotiating table."
In the last story from CIC's website above, they report bringing Yvonne Ridley and "her campaign against the West" to speak at fundraising dinners for the CIC.
The other pieces from the CIC website quoted above assert in part that:
A. Muslims are "the fastest-growing religious and cultural group."
B. "Perhaps the biggest challenge facing 21st-century Canada . . . [is that] more than half of our new immigrants come from non-Christian nations."
C. "[A]mong the major non-Christian religions, Islam is one that does not make a formal distinction between the secular and spiritual life . . . ."
D. "A staggering 90% of Canadian Muslims are foreign-born."
E. "Canadian Muslims . . . have forever changed the professional and technological landscape of our nation."
F. The traditional populations of European countries are declining as birthrates fall and they must now focus on attracting new immigrants to preserve their economies and infrastructures."
G. "Islamic schools . . . are publicly funded in British Columbia, Manitoba, Alberta and Quebec."
H. "An overwhelming majority of women representing the mainstream Muslim community support faith-based schools. In fact, Muslim mothers usually insist on Islamically educating their children . . . ."
I hope that the CIC's complaint is made available online, so that we can see which factual mistatements Faisal Joseph is referring to. It would seem that Steyn's opinions and attitudes are the primary insults to Islam and Muslims.
UPDATE: As noted by a Thomas Holsinger in the comments, Mark Steyn has now posted at The Corner that "Anyone interested in reading in full the Canadian Islamic Congress' case against me and my Maclean's colleagues can find it here."
Steyn then links the Report that I analyzed, not a human rights complaint. Also, Steyn's article is just one of 19 articles or columns criticized in the Report. Are the human rights complaints based on just one article or on all 19?
Canada Restricts Freedom of Speech.--
The U.S. Department of State reports on human rights activities in foreign countries, including Canada.
The March 6, 2007 report on Canada is quite matter-of-fact in disclosing limits on freedom of speech:
Freedom of Speech and Press . . .
The Supreme Court has ruled that the government may limit free speech in the name of goals such as ending discrimination, ensuring social harmony, or promoting gender equality. It also has ruled that the benefits of limiting hate speech and promoting equality are sufficient to outweigh the freedom of speech clause in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is the country's bill of rights incorporated in the country's constitution. . . .
Inciting hatred (in certain cases) or genocide is a criminal offense, but the Supreme Court has set a high threshold for such cases, specifying that these acts must be proven to be willful and public. The Broadcasting Act prohibits programming containing any abusive comment that would expose individuals or groups to hatred or contempt. Provincial-level film censorship, broadcast licensing procedures, broadcasters' voluntary codes curbing graphic violence, and laws against hate literature and pornography also impose some restrictions on the media.
A 2001 Report on Human Rights in Canada trumpeted how much easier it is to bring a human rights complaint to a Human Rights Commission than to a regular court:
Canada’s domestic human rights protections can be divided into two categories:
1) traditional civil liberties and due process rights, fundamental freedoms, and political rights, which consist essentially of constraints on governmental and legislative action; and
2) anti-discrimination laws, which prohibit discrimination on various grounds in society generally, and which apply to both public and private actors.
The application of the first category of domestic human rights protections is largely entrusted to the courts. The second category of rights, by contrast, is at least in the first instance enforced by specialized administrative bodies (i.e., the various human rights commissions).
Both the ordinary courts and the human rights commissions offer adjudication on individual complaints regarding human rights violations as well as various judicially enforceable remedies where violations are made out. However, in theory at least, the human rights commission model offers a number of advantages over the traditional courts. Typically, human rights commissions:
·are comprised of persons with expertise in human rights;
·have a broader institutional mandate, which includes promotion of and public education about human rights;
·are more accessible to complainants (they have less formal procedures and, more importantly, if they accept the complaint, the commissions will usually investigate and pursue it on behalf of the complainant);
·can initiate their own reviews of policies and practices, even where no complaint has been filed, and can issue public reports accordingly; and
·are obliged to report regularly to Parliament or to the provincial or territorial legislature, as the case may be, not only on their own operations, but also on the state of human rights in their respective jurisdictions.
The Strange Canadian Human Rights Statute Might Have a Loophole.--
I've been going through the Federal Canadian Human Rights Statute and the regulations under it, as they might apply to a complaint against Maclean's.
1. Time Limitation on Actions. Section 41 provides a one-year limitation for filing complaints, though it seems to be a very soft restriction:
the Commission shall deal with any complaint . . . unless in respect of that complaint it appears . . . the complaint is based on acts or omissions the last of which occurred more than one year, or such longer period of time as the Commission considers appropriate in the circumstances, before receipt of the complaint.
Were the complaints all filed within one year of Steyn's October 20, 2006 story in Maclean's? Or doesn't it matter because the story is still up on Maclean's website?
2. Grounds. Section 3 provides that religion and national origin are grounds:
For all purposes of this Act, the prohibited grounds of discrimination are race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.
3. Section 13 covers hate messages sent by telephone or computer, but not by broadcasting (or, presumably, by print):
13. (1) It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
(2) For greater certainty, subsection (1) applies in respect of a matter that is communicated by means of a computer or a group of interconnected or related computers, including the Internet, or any similar means of communication, but does not apply in respect of a matter that is communicated in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking.
If I am reading this statute correctly (and I might not be), it seems strange--and a bit unfair--that a print magazine that also has a website, like Maclean's, can be subject to a Human Rights complaint, while a print magazine that does not have a website would not be subject to a complaint for publishing the exact same article.
Are Canadian bloggers aware that the hate speech law applies to them but not to broadcasters or to print magazines that don't put their most controversial stories on the web?
Reading the Canadian Human Rights statute literally, it appears to have a loophole. If an employee of Maclean's were to read Mark Steyn's article in its entirety on a radio station in Canada (or even just the complained-of passages), then the Hate Speech provisions of the Human Rights Statute would not apply. Any "matter" in the article would then be "communicated . . . in part by means of the facilities of a broadcasting undertaking," so then "subsection (1) . . . does not apply." Maclean's would argue that the print magazine is its main medium, so the radio broadcast would be just another secondary distribution that restored its initially protected status as a print magazine.
It is unclear whether broadcasting on a US radio station that specifically broadcasts into Canada (proved not only by strength of signal, but perhaps by having advertisers serving customers living in Canada) would count. Also, it is unclear whether the Canadian Human Rights Commission or Canadian courts would apply the statute as written in the face of such a transparent voiding of the jurisdiction of the Commission to hear the complaint under the Canadian Human Rights statute. And one would expect a new complaint to be filed for violating some other statute.
At least until this case is over, Maclean's might consider buying 15-30 minutes of time in the middle of the night once a week on a small radio station and reading stories from its magazine.