Tuesday, January 1, 2008

TORONTO — A Muslim group is suing Canada’s leading national newsweekly for the right of rebuttal because it published excerpts warning of high Muslim birthrates in the book “America Alone,” by syndicated columnist Mark Steyn.

The Canadian Islamic Congress filed complaints last month against Maclean’s magazine with Canada’s national human rights commission and provincial rights commissions in Ontario and British Columbia, charging that Mr. Steyn’s writings promote hatred and contempt against Canada’s estimated 750,000 Muslims.

The commission in British Columbia accepted the case and has scheduled a hearing for early June.

Mr. Steyn, whose syndicated columns appear in The Washington Times, writes that rising birthrates in Muslim countries and the declining number of babies in Christian and Westernized countries represent a long-term security threat.

Mr. Steyn, in the excerpts used by Maclean’s, compared Muslims to Indians in the Old West infiltrating “the white cities” and suggested many Muslims are “hot for jihad” and favor a “bloody” war against the West.

The U.S. magazine Human Events published its own account of the Maclean’s article, highlighting this passage:

“There are signs that Allah will grant Islam victory in Europe — without swords, without guns, without conquests. The 50 million Muslims of Europe will turn it into a Muslim continent within a few decades.”

The Human Events article goes on to say: “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.”

Mr. Steyn, who declined to be interviewed for this article, did not write the mosquito metaphor. The quote was from a jihadist mullah living in Norway.

In a written response published by the magazine, Mr. Steyn defended the right of everyone to be as “Judeophobic and homophobic and Steynophobic” as he or she wants.

Canada’s federal and provincial human rights commissions are under fire from some conservatives and human rights activists for considering the Canadian Islamic Congress’ complaint.

The commissions are probably best-known in the United States for expunging references to Jesus in public celebrations of Christmas.

In an editorial, Canada’s National Post newspaper condemned anti-Jesus rules as an attempt to please “overly sensitive post-Christian liberals” and atheists who file human rights complaints.

For his part, Canadian Islamic Congress President Mohamed Elmasry said the complaint is not about stifling free expression but ensuring large media outlets like Maclean’s provide a voice for minorities to respond.

The group is not seeking any monetary damages. It wants Maclean’s to publish its rebuttal, Mr. Elmasry said.

“We are for free speech and free expression, but it shouldn’t be exclusively for the rich and powerful corporate media,” he said.

Toronto lawyer Garry Wise said Mr. Steyn’s writings are not hate speech.

In 1990, Canada’s Supreme Court moved to prevent human rights tribunals from stepping into areas of free speech by requiring the offending material show an “extreme” amount of hatred allowing for “no redeeming qualities” in the targeted individual or group.

But if one of the human rights panels does rule in favor of the Islamic council, “this case could end up in the Supreme Court.”

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