CJFE and NCCM have partnered in this campaign to raise awareness about the rise in prominence of anti-democratic hate groups in Canada and the increased use of ‘free expression’ as a shield for overtly Islamophobic sentiment. In a recent and notable example, Motion 103, the anti-Islamophobia motion that passed the House of Commons in March, has been condemned across the right as a ‘threat to free speech,’ and right-wing hate groups have held rallies against it in Toronto and Ottawa. CJFE and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association have published statements that the motion does not pose a threat to free expression. At a rally on May 6 in Toronto, a CJFE staff member was assaulted by far-right demonstrators while filming the event.
“Free expression isn’t just a platform for a bad opinion. In fact, the idea that it is, is placing the pluralistic and open nature of democracy itself at risk. Counterspeech is free expression too,” said CJFE Executive Director Tom Henheffer. “Your right to speak freely doesn’t mean freedom from consequences for that speech. In this case, we’re using our voice to show leadership on using free expression to challenge hateful ideas.”
“Human rights belong to all of us,” says Ihsaan Gardee, Executive Director of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM). “This campaign is an important way to reinforce our cherished fundamental rights and freedoms and to show that everyone in Canada is protected by them.” More.
The release above provides some context for the drive for Muslim prayers in public schools:
“CJFE indicates a desire to use funds raised through the advertising campaign to expand it to other locations and transit systems, including the Peel Region, where far right groups have announced plans to conduct weekly protests outside of public high-schools. These groups are opposed to accommodations the Peel School Board has made for Muslim prayers in public schools.” But Why should a public school board accommodate religious prayers? And the prayers of only one religion at that? Wasn’t the answer to that decided to be no! a long time ago?
Isn’t it curious how little we hear against the prayer-in-the-schools proposal from the people who would once have opposed prayer in the schools…
Once upon a time, the concept of journalists for free expression had integrity: Back when I was helping fight for the right to cover (vs. police) twenty years ago, I doubt any journalists’ group would have accepted such a collaboration. No matter how pristine our intentions, there was the spectre of being bought. When some of us raised money from among ourselves for one beleaguered journalist in the ’90s, an informal group paid off her legal bill ourselves and gave all the remaining proceeds to a food bank.
But in those days, there was real work for us covering real news in mainstream media… More, as I recall, than one could handle. Now, in the age of the upheld handheld (citizen journalist), there is work for current journalism school graduates only in creating propaganda, increasingly funnelled through moribund mainstream media. And heaven knows, progressives are happy creating propaganda.
Let’s enjoy not having to pay for most of it while we can.
See also: Canadian Journalists For Free Expression Campaigns *Against* Free Expression – Of Course