(With in twenty-four hours of this controversy, the web site of the student paper where the original outrage took place had vanished from the World Wide Web, causing some of the links below to vanish. This may be because the University is taking its summer vacation, but it's common for universities to destroy the web archives of student papers that offend against diversity by being diverse. See The Orwellian Memory Hole:Vanishing Archives. By Wendy McElroy.)
On February 19, Omar Siddiqui, a law student at Toronto's Osgoode Hall Law School published an article which spoke approvingly of women being flogged for adultery (as long as the skin wasn't broken), and quoting the old law that, "In cases where a child has been born which is not even seen as direct evidence of fornication, and the mother is breast feeding the child, she must not be punished for fear that the child will lose a mother."
Turned around, that sentence means that it's OK under Islamic law to flog a nursing mother, possibly to death, if her child was born as the result of adultery.
He also compared the flogging of a Nigerian woman to the North American problems feminists are always complaining about:
While one girl in Nigeria is wrongly punished, thousands of women in the Canadian system are denied equal access and fair treatment under the law.
Most people can see a basic qualitative difference between 100 lashes for adultery, and 78 cents on the dollar, but not Omar Siddiqui.
Several people complained about this, including Raha Shahidsaless and Demitry Papasotiriou. Papasotiriou used the expression "pathetic and irrelevant religious dogma" and said that there was "NOTHING, absolutely nothing spiritual about that Islamic faith" [sic].
All of which, you would think, would be instantly agreed with by any University Administration concerned with religious freedom (non-existent in the Moslem world), or the status of women.
In fact, we should be reading that Mr. Siddiqui has been ridden out of town on a rail by enraged feminists, like Skipper Ireson in the poem.
But no! According to a May 1, 2000 National Post story, Peter W. Hogg, dean of Osgoode Hall, said he was embarrassed by the response to this anti-female ranting, and he wrote letters saying that he was "sorry that the editors chose to publish the article" criticizing Islam's anti-woman, anti-freedom laws.
"The article was essentially a criticism of Islamic law but it also made some unjustified criticisms of the Islamic belief system. It was very offensive to Muslim students," he said.
"I started to get just a torrent of e-mails from Muslims all over North America."
Papasotiriou issued an apology of sorts (Intolerance for Intolerance), partly in response to "anonymous and threatening e-mails." But he still feels that that certain Islamic tendencies are to be condemned:
To those who uphold inhumane customs and practices based in accordance with their religious teachings that they attempt to qualify as just and humane, I recommend to them to live in a country, if only briefly, where my aunt was murdered when she was gunned down at a bus stop because she was not veiled and where the spokesperson for the police noted that she provoked the attack (July 14, 1994, Algeria).
With that sort of attitude, you can see why Dean Hogg's university is "investigating complaints that the article breached the school's code of non-academic conduct that prohibits hatemongering."
After all, Algeria's local custom of shooting down unveiled women is a Third World custom. And as such, it is above criticism (by Westerners, that is. Muslim women can complain if they like.).
Terry Heinrichs of York University wrote a letter to the National Post asking who Dean Hogg thought he was "to legislate what qualifies as unjustified criticisms of Islam?"
I presume Mr. Heinrichs is next on the list of people to be disciplined. He's been studying American history, and has picked up foreign ideas about "Free Speech" and "Civil Liberties."
There's an organization called CAIR, the Council on American Islamic Relations. CAIR was established to "promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in America." Their Canadian chapter may have been the inspiration behind the e-mails that Dean Hogg received.
CAIR believes that "misrepresentations of Islam are most often the result of ignorance on the part of non-Muslims and reluctance on the part of Muslims to articulate their case."
That's fine with me. I'm opposed to misrepresentations myself.
Unfortunately, it's not misrepresentations and ignorant prejudice that CAIR fights on a daily basis. They're fighting the truth, and any criticism of Islamic belief or practice. Daniel Pipes has been subjected to a lot of intimidation and so have many others who have dared to criticize Islam. Steven Emerson, producer of Jihad in America, is actually in hiding.
But it would be unfair to blame CAIR for York University's actions in this case. The Canadian academic community is quite capable of rolling over and playing dead, or worse, without being asked.
However, if Dean Hogg wants to make the Osgoode Hall Law School acceptable by Middle Eastern standards, he still has a long way to go.
Here is short list of suggestions for reform:
These measures should propel his University both forward into the 21st Century and backward into the 6th.
May 2, 2001