Sunday, June 29, 2008

CHRC to CIC: Put a Sock In It

Human Rights Commission refuses to hear Steyn complaint

One of the many ongoing controversies swirling around the Canadian Human Rights Commission drew nearer to a close yesterday, as it dismissed the complaint raised by the Canadian Islamic Congress against Maclean's magazine.

The complaint stemmed from Maclean's publishing of "The Future Belongs to Islam", an excerpt from Steyn's (actually counter-factually titled) America Alone which insists that Muslims are a direct threat to the Western world due to higher birthrates and antithetical values.

The Commission did take some of the objectionable nature of the article into account when rendering their decision.

"The writing is polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike," wrote Commission secretary Lucie Veillette. "Overall, however, the views expressed in the Steyn article, when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature as defined by the Supreme Court."

Naturally, the CIC has its own opinion regarding the decision.

"We are disappointed that the Tribunal made this decision without hearing the compelling evidence of hate and the expert testimony we recently presented to the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal," CIC lawyer Faisal Joseph said in a news release. "The Commission’s decision contradicts the findings of its own Investigator’s report which states that this Article contains hallmarks of hate identified by the Commission in its earlier case law."

While Steyn's article is, indeed full of some rather alarming generalizations, the CHRC's decision should serve as a reminder to the most litigious amongst Canada's Islamic community that, when confronted by sensationalist commentaries that do, unfortuantely, contain kernels of truth (no matter how small or potentially distorted), the onus remains on them to rebut it -- not on human rights law to insist that some unpleasant kernels of truth about Islam may never even be spoken.

Of course, Steyn and various individuals like him have their own fair share of questions to answer about Islam and their treatment of it.

For example, one wonders what they would have to say about Muslims Against Sharia, a blog run by moderate Muslims -- the very moderate Muslims that many of those who subscribe to Steyn's teachings insist don't exist -- that has actually supported them in the past.

But so long as Islam, and its impact upon Canada, remain controversial the debate will very much remain necessary. The CHRC's decision in this case is a welcome one, although the triumph is far from complete: this case is still being considered against Macleans in the British Columbia Human Rights Commission.

Hopefully, the BCHRC will make the right decision as well.


  1. I thought that Muslims Against Sharia was discredited as a rightwing blog run by white people from Sweden?

  2. Really? If that's so, I certainly haven't heard about it.

    I suppose it would explain certain uses of imagery on the blog.


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