I am writing you this letter on hearing of pressure applied to Rabbi Mendel Kaplan of the Chabad Flamingo Synagogue in Thornhill to cancel an event with Ms. Pamela Geller.
I am a Muslim, a tenured professor in a prestigious Canadian university, the University of Western Ontario in London. I am appalled that in this day and age we continue to hear regularly how the liberal democratic tradition of Canada and the West is being systematically shredded by institutions sworn to protect it. Free speech is the most fundamental right of a free society; constrain it, strip it, shred it, and then let us not be surprised our society will be turned into a society such as one from where I fled as a young man to find freedom in the West, and I remain ever grateful that Canada took me in and gave me the opportunity to pursue my own dreams.
I pray you consider any decision you make that ends up taking another step in undermining the tradition of free speech that made the West, and Canada as a part of it, the most flourishing, open, and free culture in the entire history of mankind. Each one of us are responsible that this tradition is preserved, protected, and passed on to the unborn generations what we inherited.
I submit your intentions might very well be of some merit as a guardian of law and order. But those pushing for preventing Ms. Pamela Geller from speaking by putting pressure on Rabbi Mendel to deny the use of his synagogue for holding her event are people I know very well. These are people, Muslims as I am, who come from cultures that have no respect for individual rights and freedoms enshrined in our constitution, and while making home here in Canada have no respect for the culture of this country. They need to learn the culture of a free society, of a society that is open to debates and discussions however painful this might be to someone else’s sensibilities. But if you concede to their demands, all that you would be doing is indulging them, heeding their wishes and threats, and slowly, intentionally or not, bending Canada’s tradition in the direction of the ruined cultures of these people which they have brought with them and want to push into our society.
I hope you will think hard and think clearly given your responsibility and defend the tradition of liberal democracy based on rule of law, individual freedom and free speech. I might just remind you that it was in defending this tradition that time and time again your compatriots went across oceans to distant places and were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice so that freedom there might take root by defeating the forces of tyranny. It often takes immense courage to do what is right, whether to refuse going to the back of a bus in a segregated society or protecting the right of someone to speak, especially when one disagrees with what might be spoken.
I pray God gives you the courage to do what is right in this instance.
Salim Mansur, PhD
Department of Political Science
University of Western Ontario