Racism and Maclean's Magazine

Racism and Maclean's Magazine

Taxonomy Categories: Cyberhate, section 13, Steyn,

Mohamed Elmasry et al v. Roger’s Publishing Ltd. and Ken MacQueen (Maclean's Magazine)

The British Colombian human rights tribunal released their decision on Friday, October 10, 2008 at http://www.bchrt.bc.ca/decisions/2008/pdf/oct/378_Elmasry_and_Habib_v_Rogers_Publishing_and_MacQueen_(No_4)_2008_BCHRT_378.pdf

Faceted Search Categories: Cyberhate, section 13, Steyn,
Maclean's decision

Thank you for the way that you tackled this issue. Many of us did not notice it or did not feel anything could be done. You 3 noticed it, figured out ways to make it into an actionable issue and then executed almost perfectly at every opportunity.

Posted by admin on Sun, 05/31/2009 - 11:03
Maclean's decision

I want to thank you 3 and the people that helped work with you on this on behalf of the kids I don’t yet have ;-); you have made changes in CDN public discourse that will go a long way towards allowing our community to feel empowered about its direction and you have raised the quality of media discourse in this country as well. I wish you three the best of success and wish you have long, excellent careers that help move our various communities forward past the sometimes ignorant and sometimes hateful interactions.

Posted by admin on Sun, 05/31/2009 - 11:02
Khurrum Awan and Muneeza Sheikh respond


Although we did not win, we feel vindicated in our position in a number of respects.

Firstly, the Tribunal acknowledged that the provision of the Code that we relied upon (stating, in effect, bars publications which will likely expose a target group to hatred or contempt) is a stand alone provision, in that it does not have to be tied to another area of protection (ie; only catching publications which affect one's right to equal opportunity in housing, employment, etc). This precedent will be valuable to all minority groups in the future. Secondly, our evidence was accepted depicting the article as containing "numerous factual, historical and religious inaccuracies." It was described by the Tribunal as full of "hyperbole", "harmful and distasteful" and as containing "common stereotypes" about Muslims and Islam. Thirdly, the BC human rights tribunal acknowledged the responsibility of the media in shaping people's perceptions, despite many cries that media should be completely isolated from critique and should sit above the law.

Unfortunately, however, although the Tribunal found that the article "may attempt to rally public opinion by exaggeration and causing the reader to fear Muslims" they also ruled that "fear is not synonymous with hatred or contempt." They also ruled that they did not feel that Maclean's endorsed the views of Steyn by printing the piece, and that Maclean's could not be responsible for the content of the many blogs that we provided as evidence of people expressing hatred on the basis of the publication.

As you can tell, there are some inconsistencies and problems with the decision from our perspective, and together with our lawyer, Faisal Joseph, and the Canadian Islamic Congress, we are considering our next steps.

Regardless of whether we continue along or end our journey here, I want to make the following observations on behalf of myself, Khurrum, Muneeza and the CIC.

First of all, a huge thank you to all of you. You supported us when the going was tough, and shared in celebrations when times were good (ie: the Ontario human rights commission's straight lashing out at Maclean's). Whether it was fundraising, doing background legal research, spreading the word in your communities, helping us polish or message or writing letters to the editors or blogs, your contribution was precious.

At a very minimum, it reminded us that that there are enough people out there who still think a fight for inclusion and respect is worth fighting and who are ready to stand up to what they see as un-Canadian like intolerance. On a large scale, we could not have literally done this without your presence. This was a tough fight against a multi-million dollar corporation that played out in international media, the world of the internet, in politics and in the courtroom. You all put forward an incredible effort and were brave enough to do so. We can never thank you for coming forward and actively helping in a campaign you believed in.

Secondly, although the end decision was not in our favor, we must not forget that the process of standing up for yourself and your ideals is in and of itself fundamentally important and positive. When all is said and done, media representation of Muslims and other minorities is (and continues to be, even after this decision) a very important issue. We could not have afforded to sit quietly along any longer.

Together we raised important debate and discussion. We had Steyn called out for his bigotry at every instance. To hear again and again as a result of this complaint from people all of over the country that Steyn does not represent their views and deserves to be called out, was immensely empowering for us personally and for our community at large. It is important to note that due to the discussion we created even people who ultimately did not support our complaint often distanced themselves from Steyn and his views.

Thirdly, even if we didn't win, we are confident that we sent a strong message. We let the general media (above and beyond Maclean's) know that there are people watching what is going on with respect to their treatment of minorities and who aren't afraid to take them on. Editors around the country are taking note. I even truly believe that we did end up changing the content of Macleans - from what I hear now, Steyn has stopped writing for them and they have even come out with a few balanced Muslim articles. There is great social value in calling attention to negative behavior.

Most importantly, through this process, we have created among us networks and connections in a spirit of activism. I hope that we can continue in this spirit and build upon it.

So for these huge victories, we are grateful and content. We will of course keep you up to date with any new developments.

Thanking you once again,

Naseem Mithoowani (for Khurrum Awan and Muneeza Sheikh).

Posted by admin on Sun, 05/31/2009 - 11:01