(OTTAWA, CANADA – 07/13/06) – CAIR-CAN is asking the federal government to clarify its position on freedom of speech after the outcry over a planned visit to Canada of a British Imam and the official silence about the upcoming entry of a U.S. evangelist who has called Islam “a very evil and a very wicked religion.”
A spokesperson for Immigration Minister Monte Solberg said “we do not welcome hate-mongers in Canada” when explaining why the federal government recently instituted barriers to prevent the visit of British Imam Riyad ul-Haq. Ul-Haq was accused of having made hateful comments against Jews, homosexuals and other minorities.
The federal government has not said whether U.S. evangelist Reverend Franklin Graham, who is scheduled to visit Winnipeg in October 2006, will face similar barriers to entry.
SEE: Graham’s Show of Hope on Its Way to Winnipeg
In a 2001 interview, Graham called Islam “a very evil and a very wicked religion” and in 2005 Graham told an ABC reporter that he had not changed his opinion and made further inflammatory comments against Muslims. Graham has also said that Hindus are “bound by Satan’s power.”
None of the interest groups who called for ul-Haq to be barred from entry have spoken out about Graham’s views or his visit to Canada.
For more information about Graham’s Islamophobic comments, see:
“Based on the different reactions to the comments of both religious leaders, some Canadian Muslims are wondering whether a double standard is being applied,” says CAIR-CAN Executive Director Karl Nickner. “As Muslims and as Canadians, we stand firmly against any hateful religious speech by representatives of all faiths.”
Nickner says freedom of speech is a cornerstone of Canadian society that should not be so easily abandoned when existing hate speech legislation is sufficient to deal with hateful commentary made on Canadian soil.
CONTACT: CAIR-CAN Communications Director Halima Mautbur, 613-254-9704 or 613-795-2012; CAIR-CAN Executive Director Karl Nickner, 613-254-9704 or 613-853-4111