Canadian Muslim Leaders Worried U.S. Speakers Will Spread 'Hate' about Islam

By Loriggio, Paola | The Canadian Press, September 13, 2013 | Go to article overview

Canadian Muslim Leaders Worried U.S. Speakers Will Spread 'Hate' about Islam


Loriggio, Paola, The Canadian Press


Muslim leaders worried about 'hate' message

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TORONTO - A Canadian Muslim organization is calling on Ottawa to spell out how it decides whether to allow controversial foreign speakers into the country ahead of a planned appearance by two conservative American bloggers.

The National Council of Canadian Muslims worries Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer will spread "hate and misinformation" about the Islamic faith when they speak at a Toronto-area hotel Tuesday evening, the group's executive director said.

Though it disagrees with their message, the group isn't seeking to have the pair turned away at the border, Ihsaan Gardee said. But it would like to know how, exactly, that decision is made.

"What we would like from the government of Canada is clear and consistent direction... when it comes to the eligibility of speakers to enter Canada," he said.

"It needs to be consistent and clear because if it isn't, then it sends a message that freedom of speech and hate (are) being arbitrarily measured."

Canadian authorities have previously denied access to some polarizing figures, such as Terry Jones, the American pastor best known for burning copies of the Islamic holy text.

Geller and Spencer have sparked their share of outrage through their respective blogs, Atlas Shrugs and Jihad Watch. The pair also co-founded the group Stop the Islamization of America.

They were barred from entering the U.K. in June, a move they condemned as a blow against freedom of speech.

The Canada Border Services Agency wouldn't say whether it would consider similar action, noting admissibility is determined "on a case-by-case basis."

"Several factors are used in determining admissibility into Canada, including: involvement in criminal activity, in human rights violations, in organized crime, security, health or financial reasons," spokeswoman Vanessa Barrasa said in an email.

But recent changes to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act also allow the immigration minister to deny entry over "public policy considerations," a standard some experts say has been ill-defined.

Under the previous rules, "it was very clear that the offence in question had to be equivalent to a criminal offence in Canada," said Sharryn Aiken, a law professor at Queen's University in Kingston. …

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