Human rights complaint against Maclean's dismissed
Published Saturday, June 28, 2008 4:40PM EDT
The Canadian Human Rights Commission has dismissed a Muslim group's complaint against Maclean's magazine.
The Canadian Islamic Congress had argued the magazine published an article in October 2006 that would likely expose Muslims to hatred and contempt.
The article, entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam," by Mark Steyn claimed that Muslims are on the verge of dominating Europe and the West because of a demographic shift.
The article claims that their greater numbers will eventually allow Muslims to dominate Western countries. The article goes so far as to quote a European imam who allegedly said Muslims are reproducing like "mosquitoes."
While commentators have said Steyn's demographic claims are way off-base, the CHRC concluded the views in the article, "when considered as a whole and in context, are not of an extreme nature, as defined by the Supreme Court."
Therefore, the Commission said there is no reason to warrant the appointment of a tribunal to look into the matter. In its four page decision, the Commission noted Steyn's "writing is polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike."
Faisal Joseph, a lawyer for the Canadian Islamic Congress (CIC), said he disagreed with the commission's finding. He said there was "compelling evidence of hate and expert testimony" to support their case, had it been allowed to move forward.
The complainants have argued that Maclean's forced them to act because the magazine wouldn't print their response. They want the magazine to publish a counterpoint.
They've also filed a similar complaint with the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, which finished hearing the case earlier this month, but has yet to make a ruling. The Ontario Human Rights Commission has said it does not have the jurisdiction to hear a similar case.
On its website, Maclean's released a statement noting satisfaction with the CHRC decision.
"Though gratified by the decision, Maclean's continues to assert that no human rights commission, whether at the federal or provincial level, has the mandate or the expertise to monitor, inquire into, or assess the editorial decisions of the nation's media," said the statement.
"And we continue to have grave concerns about a system of complaint and adjudication that allows a media outlet to be pursued in multiple jurisdictions on the same complaint, brought by the same complainants."
Steyn and others -- including editors at Maclean's -- have said the issue is not the article's merits or its viewpoint. They are concerned that such human rights tribunals could suppress free speech.