Our Canadian neighbors are somewhat more restrictive of political speech than we are here in the USA.
Up there in the Frozen North, it’s not permitted to speak out against Islam. In fact, if you’re not a Muslim, quoting the Koran is considered hate speech.
And you’d better not say anything negative about homosexuals. Unless, of course, you’re a Muslim, and then you can say pretty much anything you like about them — and also about the Jews, for that matter.
The issue of free speech in Canada has just been raised in an unusual context. An alleged terrorist named Said Namouh is on trial in Quebec, and the case against him is based entirely on his internet activities. The Crown maintains that what Mr. Namouh did — distributing jihad snuff videos, offering bomb-making instructions, and helping networks of mujahideen communicate — aided and abetted terrorism. The defendant’s lawyer doesn’t dispute these facts, but maintains that what his client did was protected by — wait for it — Canada’s hallowed traditions of free speech and freedom of religion.
Ezra Levant and Mark Steyn must surely be startled to hear such an assertion. And, coming from Canadian Muslims, this is a butter-wouldn’t-melt-in-their-mouths moment.
Here’s the story from The National Post:
‘Where Do You Draw the Line’
Quebec man accused of terror activities was expressing religious freedom: defence
MONTREAL — The videos found on Said Namouh’s computer when police raided his Quebec apartment in 2007 are brutal: point-blank executions of Westerners, suicide bombings, a charred soldier’s body dragged through the street in celebration. Others offered tips on bomb-making or threatened Western governments over the presence of troops in Afghanistan.
Over the past three weeks, a Quebec court has heard that Mr. Namouh worked tirelessly to ensure these images were widely available on the Internet to the global jihadi community, in some cases doing the editing and adding subtitles himself. Mr. Namouh’s work showed that he had “devoted his life to spreading the ideology of al-Qaeda and encouraging others to join the jihadist movement,” said Rita Katz, a Crown expert at the terrorism trial. What Quebec Court Judge Claude Leblond will have to establish is whether those actions contravened Canada’s Criminal Code.
His defence lawyer, René Duval, is not contesting that Mr. Namouh was the user named Ashraf, who was so active on online jihadi forums that he earned praise for his “good work in the service of the [Global Islamic Media] Front, jihad and the mujahedeen.” But Mr. Duval argues that what his client did, while perhaps repugnant to some, was simply an exercise of his freedoms of expression and religion. “Where do you draw the line?” he asked outside the court.
And here’s the crucial point:
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Evidence before the court shows that Mr. Namouh was driven by a fervent faith, one that saw as enemies Christians, Jews and even Muslims who did not share a desire for the creation of pan-Islamic rule.
“Fervent faith” is the necessary characteristic. Those who possess it enjoy true freedom.
It is for this reason that the hateful speech of atheists enjoys no protection under the law. And Christians and Jews could never be fervent enough to qualify.
It seems that only Islam induces the pure flame of absolute zeal that entitles believers to do abominable things.
The court has also heard that in August, 2007, Mr. Namouh’s Internet chats were intercepted, revealing what police believe were plans to explode a truck bomb at an undisclosed location outside Canada.
“I have the information and experience for acquisition of explosives in a country and the way to have them easily,” he said on Aug. 8. Later he was overheard discussing plans to travel to North Africa and saying, “Terrorism is in our blood, and with it we will drown the unjust.”
Mr. Namouh faces charges of conspiracy, participating in the activities of a terrorist group, facilitating terrorist activity and extortion.
Mr. Namouh’s lawyer maintains that his client’s religious belief is the main reason why these activities are protected:
Mr. Duval said the trial is a crucial test of Canadian anti-terrorism law. “I question whether the fact of providing [Internet] links, especially when one is motivated by religious belief, is a violation of the Criminal Code,” he said in an interview. He said that even though the beliefs of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden are “repugnant to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, still, are they not religious beliefs? A lot turns on that.”
Needless to say, the Crown does not agree:
Ms. Katz maintains that Internet jihadi propaganda is not just a matter of expressing one’s beliefs but an active effort to “indoctrinate, recruit and train followers.” In a report submitted to the court, another Crown expert, Reuven Paz, stated that the Global Islamic Media Front is at the forefront of these activities.
Vlad Tepes notes that Said Namouh’s lawyer has provided a clarifying moment for Canadian jurisprudence, regardless of the disposition of the case:
First of all, I would like to thank the defense lawyer for suspected terrorist Said Namouh. He unwittingly, or perhaps with full knowledge and likely so, is doing the western world a massive service. He is doing something that urgently needs doing. His defense argument, that this accused terrorist is merely observing his religious rights, is forcing the western world to examine its legal and cultural axioms. To be clear…
I believe that this may well be the most important civil trial on the matter of terrorism; multiculturalism; immigration and western law that has ever taken place.
The defense is not saying this man has not done what he is accused of. On the contrary, he is quite plainly admitting it and is challenging the notion of religious freedom. This lawyer and his defendant is in fact admitting plainly that terrorism, hatred of the west and freedom, killing of innocents and the advocating and planning of same is intrinsic to Islam and therefore is covered under his right to religious freedom.
The implications of this are staggering. If the judge finds in his favour, it means anyone can dream up as vile an ethos imaginable (although it would tax my imagination beyond its limits to think of a more vile one than Islam) create a basis for it in a holy book and claim a right to behave according to that ethos on the basis of Canadian guarantees of freedom of religion.
The very idea that this kind of defence could be used is startling. It can only be brought in to a serious criminal trial because liberal democracies have become inured with the notion that all ideologies have equal rights so long as they have an irrational basis.
The case also illustrates how deeply irrational the Western judicial system has become. Not only do matters hinge on how fervently these destructive religious impulses are felt, but only Muslims are accorded the right to act on such impulses.
The cat’s out of the bag. The hitherto unstated premise — that Islam assigns irresistibly violent imperatives to its adherents — has now been stated openly.
No other religion has been granted such a privilege. It’s obvious that none ever will.
Are Canadians going to sit still for this?
We’ll soon find out.