B.C. panel rejects Muslim complaint vs. Maclean's
The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 10, 2008 10:24PM EDT
VANCOUVER - The B.C. Human Rights Commission has rejected a human rights complaint against Maclean's magazine that claimed an article about Islam violated anti-hate laws.
In a ruling released Friday, the commission found the article by Mark Steyn did not violate anti-hate laws or raise hatred against Muslims.
It's the third time the complaint by members of the Canadian Islamic Congress has been dismissed by a human rights commission in Canada.
The October 2006 article, called "The Future Belongs to Islam," discusses the global ambitions of young Muslims and suggests the West doesn't have the will to withstand the challenge.
In the B.C. complaint, the Islamic Congress claimed the writing suggests Muslims pose a threat to Western society, to democracy and human rights -- a violation of the B.C. Human Rights Code.
In a ruling released Friday, the provincial human rights panel dismissed the claim.
The article may have been "hurtful and distasteful" to some, the commission tribunal found.
But "read in its context, the article is essentially an expression of opinion on political issues which, in light of recent historical events involving extremist Muslims and the problems facing the vast majority of the Muslim community that does not support extremism, are legitimate subjects for public discussion," it found.
"The article may attempt to rally public opinion by exaggeration and causing the reader to fear Muslims, but fear is not synonymous with hatred and contempt."
In June, the Canadian Human Rights Commission rejected the same complaint against Maclean's, saying the views expressed weren't extreme, and a similar complaint filed with the Ontario Human Rights Commission failed when it ruled it didn't have jurisdiction to hear it.
The B.C. tribunal did find that the article by Steyn "contains historical, religious and factual inaccuracies" and used common Muslim stereotypes.
And the responses it elicited online were often "disturbing to read," said the decision.
But despite "all its inaccuracies and hyperbole," the article resulted in political debate that hate laws were never intended to suppress, it said.
"In fact, as the evidence in this case amply demonstrates, the debate has not been suppressed and the concerns about the impact of hate speech silencing a minority have not been borne out," the tribunal found.
The article, an excerpt from Steyn's book "America Alone," discusses the global ambitions of a growing number of Muslim youth and suggests the West "lacks the will to rebuff those who would supplant it."
"The article explicitly and implicitly states the influx and presence of Muslims in Western societies poses a threat to Western society, to democracy, to human rights, and to peace and order due to their religious identity and beliefs as Muslims," the complainants said in their submission to the tribunal.
Maclean's did not call any evidence at the tribunal hearing. In a written response, the magazine called the article "fair comment on a subject of public interest."