Culture Ethics Politics

Muslim group sues Canadian prime minister for defamation

Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister of Canada.

Photo courtesy of Federal Government, via Wikimedia Commons

Stephen Harper, prime minister of Canada.

(RNS) The National Council of Canadian Muslims is suing Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper for defamation, alleging his spokesman linked the group to terrorism in January.

The suit seeks a retraction and $100,000 in damages.

The row began when council leaders criticized Harper for including Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, who hosted anti-Muslim bloggers Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer, at an event last fall in Toronto.

The prime minister’s communications director, Jason MacDonald, responded by saying, “We will not take seriously criticism from an organization with documented ties to a terrorist organization such as Hamas.”

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization in Canada.

Reached by email Thursday (May 29), MacDonald, who is also named in the suit, declined to comment.

The council wanted to give Harper time to either retract the comments or offer evidence proving them. After receiving neither, the group filed the suit Monday.

The council said it has consistently condemned terrorism.

The council was affiliated with the Council on American-Islamic Relations and was known as CAIR-CAN until last year, when it changed its name.

CAIR spokesman Ibrahim Hooper said a court ruling in favor of the council, which is independent from CAIR in the United States, could have an impact in the U.S.

“If the Canadian organization is able to prove there was defamation, that might make Islamophobes think twice before making this baseless claim,” Hooper said.


About the author

Omar Sacirbey

Omar Sacirbey is a Boston-based correspondent for Religion News Service and other publications.


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  • In a week filled with news stories of the kidnapping and forced conversion to Islam of hundreds of Nigerian Christian girls, and a week of news stories about the planned execution of a Christian woman in the Sudan by Moslem fanatics, and the suicide bombing in Syria of innocent people to the shouts of “Allah Akhbor” and the stoning to death of a woman in Pakistan by her own family doesn’t strike me as the right time to complain about what someone says about Islam and insultingly call them “Islamaphobes..” Maybe some people will come to believe that the “Islamophobes” are right especially if Moslems appear to want to crush freedom of speech about Islam as such speech is usually crushed violently in virtually all Moslem countries.

  • Greetings of Peace–

    I believe what the National Council of Canadian Muslims is perturbed by is that the Canadian Prime Minister believes something quite like what you seem to believe — that Islam is about oppression, intolerance, and violence. Please do not allow such a small minority of extremists (which have existed and continue to exist in every religion) to cloud your judgment. Misinformation and fear-mongering on both sides only obstructs the principles that Islam and all revealed religion call for — peace, compassion, and understanding between all people. I assume that since you are a deacon, that you are a Christian. Please remember the words of the Gospel of John: “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” All humanity is one family. And despite some Western views of Islam and the views of Islamic fundamentalists, the Qur’an calls for harmony and tolerance between members of different religions: “We have our religion, and you have yours. There need be no fundamental disagreement between us. Allah Most High will draw us all together as we return home to the Source” (sura 42).

    Pray for peace and understanding between all people. Seek the Truth as it reveals itself in all holy scripture. Maligning Islam does nothing to stop fundamentalism. Quite the contrary.

  • From what I have seen of your posts, you are not the best one to judge when it comes to rabid religious beliefs. Give a bunch of Christian Fundamentalists access to political power or a few billion in petrodollars and we would be seeing the same out of them.

  • This is what you get when you give power to any religious group.
    They want heads to roll (Literally) when somebody speaks freely about religion.

    Muslims, Christians, Jews, Hindus and anyone else who does not like free speech needs to grow up and understand that to the rest of the world their Gods are nothing more than INVISIBLE HOT POCKETS.

    Religious groups need to be schooled in how free speech works.

    Gods are garbage. Keep them in your homes, churches and mosques.
    To push your Gods on the rest of us only leads only to war.

  • @Ra’uf,

    All religions are nonsense, including Islam. None of them are in favor of peace. Prayer is a joke.

    Now if you don’t like how people see your religion, find a pillow and scream into it – because that is all you are allowed to do. Nobody should care how you feel, they should care only whether you speak the truth. And so far, most people agree that everyone else’s religion is nonsense:

    CHRISTIANITY – “Bring my enemies and EXECUTE THEM in front of me.” – JESUS (Luke 19:27)

    JUDAISM – Kill ALL believers of OTHER religions! (Deut. 13:7-12)

    ISLAM – SLAY THEM wherever you find them…as Allah’s religion reigns supreme. (Surah 2:190-)

    Freedom of speech means: If you don’t like what you are hearing the only civilized response is MORE SPEECH.

  • @Deacon John M. Bresnahan,

    I think the ‘Islamophobe’ remark by the CAIR spokesman was ill advised and unhelpful if it was directed specifically at the Canadian P.M. or his Director of Communications. It’s not clear to me from this article that it was.

    However your inference that ‘all Muslims’ somehow bear responsibility for the events you’ve listed, and therefore should at this time effectively shut up in the face of any vilification, lies and abuse of Islam, is nonsensical. And, given your concern that “Moslems appear to want to crush freedom of speech about Islam”, it also strikes me as a tad hypocritical.

    Furthermore, if your generalised opinions about what “Moslems” are, do or want are determined exclusively by media portrayal, on what basis are we to take your views as informed?

  • On the one hand I can understand this Canadian Muslim organisation being upset at Prime Minister Harper for accompanying Rabbi Daniel Korobkin on the trip to the Middle East. I can’t imagine him accompanying a cleric from another faith who associated with rabidly anti Semites, so why the double standard? On the other hand, confusingly, Prime Minister Harper is well known amongst Ahmadi Muslims to be a decent, tolerant person who has regularly interacted with and praised, peace promoting Muslim organisations such as my own. I just wonder if litigation by this organisation, even if justifiable, is the most productive remedy to strengthen their relations with the Canadian government in the long run. Why have they not been able to elicit the respect of his office during this controversy of the trip and the subsequent spokesperson’s remarks? What have they been doing (or not doing enough of) to elicit such a curt response? I’m not apportioning blame, I’m just wondering what’s going on.

    I don’t accept that advocating for government officials not to associate with sympathisers for the Pamela Gellar/Robert Spencer ilk is a suppression of freedom of speech, though it certainly aims to delegitimise hate speech. And similarly I don’t see Canada’s listing of Hamas as a terrorist organisation a suppression of any such freedoms either. Interestingly Canada (like the US)lists Hamas, as a whole, as a terrorist group. Other western nations like the United Kingdom and Australia only designate this proscriptive title to the military wing of Hamas, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, whilst not on their charitable and social services arms. I wonder if associating with these arms is what has gotten this group offside with the Canadian government. Just speculation on my part.

  • To find disgust with what some Moslems brag is being done in the name of Islam, or the Koran is not to malign anyone, but to be stating facts about reprehensible goings on in Islamic country after Islamic country after Islamic country as official policy. At some point the question needs to be raised –debated and honestly talked about– the Evangelical minister rotting in an Iranian prison because of his religion, about the Christian woman being lined up for the gallows, about the priest gunned down outside his rectory, about the priests and deacons slaughtered inside their churches, etc., etc. It is not lies or abuse of Islam to raise one’s voice against actions such as coercion, violence, and bloodshed directed against Christians by those who claim they are the true interpreters of Islam.


    1. Do not allow a mix of church and state!
    2. Discourage religion by laughing at all of it – all religion is stupid.
    3 Encourage Secularists – they are the last hope for the world.

  • For something to be libelous or slanderous, it must not be true. One need only observe what is happening regarding Islam to come up with the truth, that is, if one believes in evidence and past history.

  • “One need only observe what is happening regarding Islam to come up with the truth”

    To come up with the truth about what? Observation? The truth about that is that it is subjective and superficial. And it can lead to inaccurate generalisations and yes, at times even libel and slander. If, on the other hand, one wants to glean the truth about a particular religion, the only credible way is to examine its primary sources and judge the merits or flaws of any particular interpretation of it.

  • Wasn’t hard at all to find the documentation Harper’s spokesman was referring to. Jihadwatch had an article in January, the link to which I won’t post right now but which is easily googled by its title “Does the national council of Canadian muslims really have ties to Hamas?” The answer’s a pretty clear ‘yes,’ so the lawsuit is all for show and bluster because it can never succeed. Just another attempt to obfuscate the ties, IMHO

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