Canada rights commission dismisses Muslim complaint against newsmagazine

[JURIST] The Canadian Human Rights Commission [official website] has dismissed a Muslim group's complaint against Maclean's [media website], Canada's leading newsmagazine, for publishing an article it alleged exposed Muslims to abuse or contempt. The Canadian Islamic Congress [advocacy website] brought the complaint in respect of a 2006 article published by Mark Steyn entitled "The future belongs to Islam" [text]. In its ruling, put online late Friday by Maclean's but not yet available on the Commission's own website, the Commission said that the article was "polemical, colourful and emphatic, and was obviously calculated to excite discussion and even offend certain readers, Muslim and non-Muslim alike" but that that was not enough to constitute a discriminatory practice under Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Act, which provides:

It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Maclean's said in a statement [text] that it welcomed the Commission's ruling which it said was in keeping with its stance that the Steyn article was a "worthy piece of commentary on important geopolitical issues, entirely within the bounds of normal journalistic practice." CP has more.

The allegations against Maclean's have sparked fierce debate in Canada over the intersection of freedom of the press and the protection of human rights and have drawn sharp criticism from journalists' groups. A previous CIC action before the Ontario Human Rights Commission [official website] in respect to the article failed when it said it lacked the jurisdiction under the Ontario Human Rights Code [text]. The British Columbia Human Rights Commission heard arguments [JURIST report] on the article's alleged infringement of section 7 of the BC Human Rights Code [text] earlier this month but has not yet issued a decision.

 

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