CAIR-CAN Responds to Columnist's Smears


[Riad Saloojee is executive director of CAIR-CAN.]

I slept Friday with the dreamy prospect of spending the next day relaxing with my kids at this park or that. I awoke instead to a phone call from my office telling me that Margaret Wente had written a nasty j'accuse against us in The Globe and Mail's Focus section.

Ms. Wente's piece centred on a complaint the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-CAN) had sent several months ago to the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce about offensive remarks in one of their financial reports. The bank granted our request to send the report's author, Jeffrey Rubin, chief economist for the World Markets division of the CIBC, for sensitivity training; Ms. Wente took the same course and also wrote about her experience.

There it was: Two pages of text with what must be my most unflattering picture. Even my two-year-old nephew was put off. But I won't hold the picture against Ms. Wente, as she made space in her Focus article to call me "articulate" and "charming."

"It's tongue-and-cheek," my wife says, her eyes rolling.

"Not so," I say. "The adjectives don't have the quotation marks denoting sarcasm."

In her hurry to pen her story, Ms. Wente omitted more than merely quotation marks. Her edits should have been preceded by a fact-check. Today's publication numbers won't match Saturday's but here's a selection.

We at CAIR-CAN are "scaremongering" when we allege that the RCMP and CSIS use bully tactics. But these organizations do use such tactics. Listen to Maher Arar and others. In fact, The Globe just did a Saturday exclusive with Abdullah Almalki, a Canadian tortured abroad, which raises these and more chilling concerns.

Ms. Wente says that CAIR-CAN and other groups like us are stifling speech through libel chill. Are we? Not really. We're suing a former CSIS agent, and also neo-conservative ideologue David Frum, both of whom called us "extremists" - any level-headed Canadian would respond in the same way. (MORE)

 


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