Last Friday, I announced my intention to file a complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) against a Montreal Salafi imam under the Canadian Human Rights law prohibiting “hate propaganda” disseminated via the Internet. My complaint has been filed. I will now explain my objectives.
At first glance, as a strong defender of freedom of speech, it may seem paradoxical that I file a complaint with the aim of preventing a Salafi imam from expressing his views. In fact, my goal is to force a debate on freedom of expression and bring the public and the media to denounce the new role that CHRC is taking on, that is: Censor of “blasphemy” .
This disturbing trend, both internationally and domestically, must be reversed now before it is too late. At stake is the survival of democracy and freedom. Nothing less!
I am also seeking to attract media attention and public awareness toward the Salafi ideology. This is not a harmless religious discourse. Far from it. It is a dangerous ideology that should be outlawed.
The new blasphemy offence
There is no distinction in Islam between religious discourse and political discourse. The two have been intertwined for the last 14 centuries. The Western concept of a civil society and a free press that can criticize government policies, religions or any ideas does not exist in Islam. Any criticism is seen as an attack against Islam, blasphemy, and hate speech targeting a billion people.
On the International stage
The notion that criticism of Islam as a religion, an ideology and a political agenda is tantamount to an attack, a blasphemy, a provocation, a defamation – in short, an offence if not a crime – is gaining acceptance in international law and Canadian law. We have seen this recently with the resolutions adopted by the UN Council on Human Rights as initiated by members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). Reporters Without Borders have called this development «dramatic».
Recently, the Ontario Human Rights Commission issued an astonishing statement publicly accusing Mark Steyn and Maclean’s of being «racist islamophobes», without having held a hearing. Yet the writings of Mark Steyn published by Maclean’s focus on the long-term cultural and political impact of the growing islamization of Europe resulting from the low birth rate of native Europeans and massive Muslim immigration with a high birth rate. The federal CHRC is currently investigating a complaint against Maclean’s and Steyn for “hate propaganda”.
We may not agree with Steyn. But censoring or even attempting to censor any debate on demography because some Muslims feel «offended» is a betrayal of the principles of a vibrant democracy. That vision of human rights and freedoms is, in fact, a threat to democracy and freedom.
If we follow the logic of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, we should denounce Pope Benedict as a «racist islamophobe» because some Muslim leaders have been deeply offended that he dared baptize Cristiano Magdi Allam, an ex-Muslim. Influential Muslim clerics have qualified this gesture by the Pope as a declaration of war against Islam, an attack against one billion Muslims.
If we pursue this logic, Canada should also ban the distribution of books by Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen, which are perceived as deeply offensive by many Muslims.
Where will this new form of Inquisition, this new witch hunt, stop? The Montreal daily La Presse did not dare publish a cartoon depicting the shadow of Muhammad. Imagine! La Presse is scared of Muhammad’s shadow … The cartoonist Chapleau openly spoke about this on Radio-Canada television, with pride and without any critical perspective. He bows to the “Sharia compliant” Code of Ethics of La Presse. La Presse has cowardly betrayed our values and, in a somewhat careless manner, is undermining my rights as a citizen, your rights, democracy and freedom.
One Way Censorship
Islam as a religion, an ideology, a legal code, a political and economic program should be discussed openly. We must “Free the Speech” and open up a wide debate. We need to be able to inform the public without fear of being investigated by a Human Rights Commission or dragged through the mud by being labeled a “right wing racist”.
Imagine if, at the time of the Cold War, any criticism of Stalinism and communism had been censured as “racist” or “russianophobic” by a human rights commission. And if those promoting totalitarianism would have enjoyed complete freedom to spat their hatred of democracy and seek to win adherents in Canada to their vision of the world. That would be stupid and suicidal, right?
The crime of « hate propaganda »
Article 13 of the federal Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits “hate propaganda” disseminated by electronic means, such as the telephone, radio, television or the Internet.
When this propaganda is aimed at a vulnerable group listed in the Act, it is considered “discrimination”. The writings of the Salafi imam against whom I filed my complaint are broadcast on the Internet. To maximize my chances with the CHRC, I made my complaint identifying three protected groups; the French Canadians of Quebec as a vulnerable ethnic and linguistic minority, women and non-Muslims.
I played the “ethnic minority” card because of the strategic advantage that I can draw, nothing more. Human Rights laws protect individuals belonging to vulnerable groups. French Canadians are an ethnic, linguistic and national minority. We are probably the only white people in North America who can invoke the right to be “protected” against hate propaganda aimed at an identifiable ethnic group. The CHRC will be faced with a complaint by a member of a minority against a member of another minority. Isn’t that interesting?
The book, which is the object of my complaint
My complaint relates to a book titled: L’islam ou l’intégrisme – À la lumière du Qor’an et de la sounnah (Islam or fundamentalism – In light of the Qor’an and the Sunnah) by Salafi imam Hammaad Abou Hammaad Sulaiman Dameus Al-Hayiti who officiates in a Montreal mosque.
This imam teaches a most rigorous version of Islam and his book (which can be downloaded by clicking on the icon below) is remarkably supremacist, misogynist and macho. According to the imam, his fellow non-Muslims are “kouffars” (infidels, unbelievers, impious), Quebec women are perverse, and the population is “stupid and ignorant.” He advocates the destruction of the “idols” of the West: democracy, modernity, secularism and freedom (especially for Quebec women). He also condemns all “innovations” (bidah), mixing of the sexes, theatre, music and virtually every other Muslim schools of thought.
The impact of my complaint
The CHRC may refuse to consider my complaint, or accept to open an investigation.
1. If the CHRC refuses to consider my complaint (while currently investigating Maclean’s and Mark Steyn), we will be free to conclude that the CHRC defines its mandate as one of censorship of what any Muslim subjectively deems offensive or blasphemous, while protecting the spread of the Salafi ideology which advocates the destruction of democracy and the abolition of our freedoms. The CHRC will come out as an institution betraying its mandate and as being itself a threat to freedom and democracy.
2. If the Commission agrees to open an investigation (and regardless of the outcome), I will have directed the spotlights on the discourse of the imam and the Salafi ideology. The media and the public will be able to freely assess the dangerousness of this ideology and discredit it.
If so-called “moderate Muslims” refuse to denounce the imam’s subversive, supremacist, and hateful ideology, we will be free to draw our own conclusions. Will Muslim lobbies complain that the CHRC is persecuting the Salafi imam ?
Whatever the outcome of my complaint, I will have proved something. My sole purpose is to stimulate a public debate and strengthen freedom of expression. It is not racist or islamophobic to criticize the Salafi ideology. In fact, it is necessary to do so. It is “islamolucidity”.
If the Quebec press was strongly defending freedom of expression rather than submitting to sharia law and self-censorship, I would not have filed a complaint with the CHRC.
Islamists use the vocabulary of human rights to silence criticism. It is a double-edged sword. Their own hateful propaganda should also be scrutinized and held to the same standards.
It is time that Muslim communities take on their responsibilities and clean their own house. Otherwise, Muslims who remain silent will be suspected of endorsing an extremist ideology that should be outlawed… thus contributing to the perpetuation of islamophobia which they denounce.