Speech Ban Exposes Rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress

The National Post – October 15, 2010

Canadian Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s banning of a leading imam from the military’s Islamic History Month event has exposed an executive-level rift in the Canadian Islamic Congress between forces of progress and orthodoxy.

In a letter to the National Post today, CIC president Wahida Valiante openly disavows her reform-minded executive director, Zijad Delic, and rejects his criticisms about the Muslim group’s many public controversies, especially the failed hate speech cases against Maclean’s magazine.

Ms. Valiante writes that Mr. Delic’s plan to “purify” and “Canadianize” the CIC, and his desire to avoid lawsuits in favour of dialogue, “in no way reflect the views of CIC board.” This latest flap illustrates the harsh consequences for a Canadian Muslim leader who does not pledge loyalty to Mohamed Elmasry, the CIC founder and former president to whom Ms. Valiante was a long-time deputy.

Canadian Islamic Congress President: “We’ve been victimized”

Mohamed Elmasry, a professor of microchip design and national president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, takes issue with the treatment of Islam in Canada’s weekly news magazine publication, Maclean’s Magazine.

After considering how to best respond, whether with a criminal complaint or a civil case, Elmasry and the CIC decided on a quasi-judicial compromise by focusing on human rights commissions. All three of their complaints have been rejected. He claims, “The first point that I did learn from this exercise is that Islamophobia is alive and well in Canada, in the media and also in politics. In all of this, we’ve been victimized.” Elmasry adds that Canadian law is deficient because it lacks the concept of “group defamation” which would enable tribunals to uphold complaints such as his.

Full text article continues here. (Some news sites may require registration)