Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Mark Steyn Free Enterprise Defense Fund

Mohamed Elmasry, President of the Canadian Islamic Congress, and Professor at Kitchener's University of Waterloo [my wife's alma mater], was defending his turf today, "I don't want the public to think that this is really an Islamic issue or an immigrant issue," he said, "it is a teenager issue."

Mr. Elmasry was referring to this story out of Mississauga, Ontario:

A 16-year-old girl is in critical condition after being choked by a man believed to be her father, apparently after a dispute with her family over her refusal to wear the hijab, the Islamic headscarf worn by some Muslim women.
Mr. Elmasry has at last explained the huge increase in dress-code related North American filicide committed across ethno-religious boundaries. Teenage females are maddening and a good few more of them should be strangled if they don't wear headscarves. What is Western civilization coming to?

Well, it may be coming to the conclusion that Mr. Elmasry is full of it. This murder undeniably originated in the odious, and all too frequent misogyny of a certain segment of Muslim "manhood."

Aqsa Parvez died today in Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children. Her father has now been charged with murder, and his son with obstruction. These "men" did this in the name of honor and Islam. Most North Americans will wonder where the honor lies in killing a daughter because she would not wear a scarf.

Admittedly, there is a stark simplicity to this philosophy. If females don't do what males tell them to do they should be severely punished. They've made you look bad. Your daughter gets gang raped? 200 lashes: On her back. She won't wear what you tell her to? She should be strangled. She might someday enjoy fornication? Clitorectomy. She dared to teach gradeschools? Execution in a Kabul soccer stadium.

When he's not blaming the victim, Mr. Elmasry is busy claiming to be one. Not long ago he sued The Western Standard magazine over the publication of some Danish cartoons. Now his Canadian Islamic Congress is suing McLean's magazine over an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book America Alone (order a copy here, and have Mark sign it). These suits result from a simpering grievance culture fostered by the bureaucratization of speech under the aegis of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The London Free Press describes this suit and the kangaroo wallaby court that is the CHRC (emphasis mine):
The problem can be traced to the overweening powers of Canada's human rights tribunals. Alan Borovoy, general counsel for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, underlined the danger last year after the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada filed a human rights complaint against the Western Standard for republishing a set of Danish cartoons that many Muslims found offensive. In an article in the Calgary Herald, Borovoy wrote: "During the years when my colleagues and I were labouring to create (human rights) commissions, we never imagined that they might ultimately be used against freedom of speech."
Quite a failure of the imagination, that.
Borovoy recalled that the restrictions on speech in the codes were intended to apply only to communications that fostered discrimination on such bases as employment or housing. Instead, human rights tribunals have adopted such expansive interpretations of these speech restrictions that a newspaper or magazine could get into trouble for publishing even a truthful article about conflict in the Middle East, Bosnia, Rwanda or elsewhere that is likely to expose at least one of the parties to contempt.

Canada's power-grabbing human rights commissioners evidently have scant regard for the freedoms they suppress or for the original understanding of the codes they are supposed to uphold. Otherwise, the British Columbia tribunal and the Canadian and Ontario human rights commissions would have promptly dismissed the CIC's complaints against Maclean's as entirely without merit.
Mark Steyn is one of the best cultural and political writers in the world today. I guess it is not too surprising that he has run afoul of Canada's toned down rage boy. Here are some other reactions to the suit:
Suing for silence
We, in the West, do not legislate for the Dar al-Islam (the Muslim realm). On the contrary, we endure the fallout from countries in which, because the right to free speech is not secure, opposition to authority must be expressed through violence.

I make this hard point because it is necessary to understand. “Freedom of expression” did not develop in the West from purely idealistic motives. Nor is it necessarily a pretty thing. Like so much in civil society, we put up with it because the alternative is worse, and we'd rather cope with free speech, than with the free intimidation that results from its suppression.

And I make this point in light of the case that has been brought against Mark Steyn and Maclean's magazine, before Human Rights Commissions for Canada, British Columbia, and Ontario, by the Canadian Islamic Congress, led by Mohamed Elmasry. The first two commissions have already agreed to hear the case, and thus rule on whether Mark Steyn had the right to express the opinions and beliefs in his bestselling book, America Alone, and specifically in the excerpt entitled, “The Future Belongs to Islam,” which ran in Maclean's last year. According to the complaint, by expressing his opinions and beliefs, Mark Steyn “subjects Canadian Muslims to hatred and Islamophobia.”


So who's fuelling the prejudice?
For grievance-mongers such as these, no insult is too small to whip up into a hate crime. This week's example is supplied by the Canadian Islamic Congress, a grandly named lobby group that, for all I know, consists of six people and a website. They're mad about a Mark Steyn piece called The Future Belongs to Islam that ran a year ago in Maclean's. This week, they launched a bunch of human-rights complaints against the magazine for promoting hatred against Muslims. "This article completely misrepresents Canadian Muslims' values, their community, and their religion," said Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the CIC. "I felt personally offended," said complainant Naseem Mithoowani.

In case you haven't guessed, I'm no fan of the CIC. Its chair, Mohamed Elmasry, once let slip that he thinks all Israeli adults are legitimate targets for terrorists. Nor is the CIC a fan of mine. It tracked my sins for years, and concluded The Globe and Mail scores high on the Islamophobia meter.
Where was the HCRC on Elmasry's terrorist encouragement, EH?
Steynophobia
The complaints against Maclean’s for publishing an excerpt from America Alone have been filed by several Canadian law students and by Faisal Joseph, a former crown attorney. Maclean’s published a total of 27 letters over two issues in response to Steyn’s piece–more responses than any Maclean’s cover story received over the past year. Yet when the law students demanded a longer response, Maclean’s was willing to consider it. The students then insisted that Maclean’s run a five-page article, written by an author of their choice, with no editing by the magazine. They also demanded that the reply to Steyn be a cover story, with art controlled by them, rather than the magazine. At this point, Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Whyte showed them the door, saying he would rather let Maclean’s go bankrupt than permit someone outside of operations dictate the magazine’s content.
...

Ugly as this affair may be, can we assume that Steyn and Maclean’s will ultimately emerge unscathed–and that America, at least, is safe from this sort of crazy Canadian multiculturalism? No we cannot. However they’re resolved, these high profile cases take a toll on all concerned. More important, they send a chill over smaller fish.

Americans need to recognize the pattern here, and we also need to realize that it has already invaded the United States. American readers depend on international outlets. We often read our Steyn in Canadian publications. So an attack on Steyn in Canada is an attack on America. And recall the ongoing battle over "libel tourism," which resulted in attempts to use British law to pull Alms for Jihad from American library shelves. (Here’s the latest update on the libel tourism battle, and how it threatens free speech in America.) And take a look at this list of Muslim libel cases in America. (Be sure to read the end of that account for an understanding of how enervating and intimidating these cases can be–especially for targets less well-placed than Steyn or Maclean’s.)


Dead man writing

One of the critical differences between America and the rest of the west is that America has a First Amendment and the rest don't. And a lot of them are far too comfortable with the notion that in free societies it is right and proper for the state to regulate speech. The response of the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security to the Danish cartoons was to propose a press charter that would oblige newspapers to exercise "prudence" on, ah, certain controversial subjects. The response of Tony Blair's ministry to the problems of "Londonistan" was to propose a sweeping law dramatically constraining free discussion of religion. At the end of her life, Oriana Fallaci was being sued in France, Italy, Switzerland and sundry other jurisdictions by groups who believed her opinions were not merely disagreeable but criminal. In France, Michel Houellebecq was sued by Muslim and other "anti-racist" groups who believed opinions held by a fictional character in one of his novels were not merely disagreeable but criminal.

Up north, the Canadian Islamic Congress announced the other day that at least two of Canada’s “Human Rights Commissions” – one federal, one provincial – had agreed to hear their complaints that their “human rights” had been breached by this “flagrantly Islamophobic” excerpt from my book, as published in the country’s bestselling news magazine, Maclean’s. Several readers and various Canadian media outlets have enquired what my defense to the charges is. Here’s my answer:

I can defend myself if I have to. But I shouldn’t have to.
If you have a copy of Steyn's book, buy another one. If you don't have one, get it. And one to give away.

You can get a signed copy here. It is a highly entertaining and deadly serious book. Let's give Mark a case of writer's cramp, and Mr. Elmasry a hearty (right hand) middle finger.


**Update: 10:12AM 15-December

Mr. Elmasry isn't the only Canadian who is giving evidence proving the theme of Mark Steyn's America Alone is correct. Courtesy of the Detroit Examiner (emphasis mine):
Canadian Charged With Killing Daughter

Selma Djukic, a spokeswoman for the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, called it a case of domestic abuse.

"This is a tragedy. This another woman that has succumbed to domestic violence and we need to look at what kind of services are available to families who are immigrants and who are trying to make it in the Canadian framework," Djukic said.

Shahina Siddiqui, president of the Islamic Social Services Association, also called it a domestic violence issue.

"To say it was about her not wearing the hijab, I think that's an oversimplification. All we've heard is from her peers saying that," Siddiqui said. "Many of us who have teenagers or had teenagers know this is a very difficult time. Their hormones and emotions are raging and they are trying to assert their independence."
OK, lets agree that it wasn't about wearing the hijab and see where that takes us...

What do you know? We still find a teenage girl murdered by her father in the name of his "honor." That's the point, and no amount of prattle about "domestic abuse" alters the fact.

Commentary - Meghan Cox Gurdon: Uncommon death in the suburbs

Several Canadian Islamic groups have had the decency to deplore the slaying, which seems to have been carried out with the collusion of Aqsa’s brothers. Yet in an exquisite demonstration of moral equivalence, Shahina Siddiqui, the Canadian-based executive director of the Islamic Social Services Association of the United States and Canada, said:

“The strangulation death of Ms. Parvez was the result of domestic violence, a problem that cuts across Canadian society and is blind to color or creed.”

Oh, no, it doesn’t, Ms. Siddiqui, not this type of domestic violence, nor this particular crime: This was Shariah-based justice meted out to a Muslim girl for defying her fundamentalist father.

In Islamic culture, honor resides in the male, and a woman’s honor is relevant only to the degree that it reflects back on her masculine custodians. A man who can’t control his daughter has been shamed, so the thinking goes. Better her death than his dishonor.
The attempt of Canadian Muslim activists to move the debate away from this central fact is precisely what you would expect to happen in a society which promotes multi-culturalism to the point of moral relativism. A society, that is, that has lost its confidence in Western values.

2 comments:

Mike Savant said...

I think many people do not understand why a complaint was filed against Macleans Magazine. The following YouTube link provides an interview from Khurrum Awan *himself* on the Mike Duffy Live Show explaining the facts.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PeenAJx-Zjk

Hershblogger said...

Khurrum Awan doesn't understand the meaning of free speech, won't admit the HRCs are de facto government censors he is using precisely because they are censors, and distorts the record so severely that it is quite proper to call him a liar.

The complaint at issue was brought against Macleans, not for the fantasmal litany of offenses Awan had the freedom to spew (Muslims drinking the blood of infidels? Get me the reference.) on the CBC, it was brought for this one specific article. Go read it. Better yet, read the whole book. And, by the way, if Maclean's did publish an article saying Muslims drink the blood of infidels, or the Prophet had a 9 year-old wife, or depicted Mohammed his very self, it's still free speech - whether Canada can still recognize that 800 year old British concept or not.

As to free speech, Maclean's owed nothing to a few lawyers-in-training, but nonetheless offered Awan and his cadre the opportunity to rebut Steyn's article. In response, the aggrieved students demanded full editorial control and the right to dictate the cover art - something Maclean's certainly would not give to Mark Steyn. This entire episode was a plot by some Islamist law students to have their demands rejected in order to 1) justify bringing in Big Brother, and 2) to get face-time on national television. They succeeded. And they're still claiming to be victims.

Free speech does not mean you have the right to appropriate someone else's property. It merely means you have the right to speak. Maclean's rightly told Awan & Co. to go to Hell.

But let's have one concrete example of why you cannot believe a word Awan said in this prime time demonstration of his ability to speak freely, and how stupid he thinks you are:

***QUOTE
In rebuttal: Squashing debate like mosquitoes

Mark Steyn, For the Calgary Herald
Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Naseem Mithoowani, Khurrum Awan, Muneeza Sheikh and Daniel Simard write that "some clarifications are in order" re: The Calgary Herald's coverage of their complaint to at least three of Canada's many "human rights" commissions about an excerpt from my book, America Alone, published by Maclean's.

So, in that spirit, let me clarify one point of their column,"Debate denied over Maclean's Muslim article," which ran Saturday. They cite the following quote as an "extract from Steyn's article": "The number of Muslims is expanding like mosquitoes."

That line certainly appears in my text, but they're not my words. Rather, they were said by a prominent Scandinavian Muslim, Mullah Krekar, to a respectable Norwegian newspaper. The imam was boasting at how Islam would outbreed Europe: "We're the ones who will change you . . . 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."... More here.
**ENDQUOTE

Mike, there's a lot more on this publshed on this blog. Much of it relates to Ezra Levant as well as Mark Steyn.

You would profit from reading it. Just click the names.