Today I lost the lawsuit against me brought by Khurrum Awan, the former youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress.
You can read the full ruling here. The judge awarded Awan a whopping $80,000 plus legal costs.
I am reviewing the technical aspects of the ruling with my lawyer. But there is something terrifying, buried in this ruling, that I already know I simply must appeal — all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary.
On paragraph 166 of the decision, the judge ruled that calling Awan an anti-Semite is defamatory, and that’s one of the reasons I lost, and have to pay him so much money.
But Awan was, at one time, the youth president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, an anti-Semitic organization. At the time Awan was its youth president, the CIC was led by a notorious anti-Semite, Mohamed Elmasry. Elmasry famously went on national TV to state that any adult in Israel is a legitimate target for terrorism. The CIC has publicly called for the legalization of anti-Semitic terrorist groups.
And yet the judge ruled that it is defamatory to call the former youth president of an anti-Semitic organization, anti-Semitic. Because he denied it in court, and said he never knew about his organization’s infamous misconduct.
This should concern anyone who is worried about radical Islam, the right to criticize it, and the right to call out anti-Semitism in the public square.
If this judgment stands, anyone who dares to challenge members of Muslim extremist groups on the basis of their affiliation with such groups is at risk of costly lawsuits — and all the member of the anti-Semitic group needs to do is to deny that they share the beliefs of their organizations that they work hard to promote, or say they had no clue their anti-Semitic group was anti-Semitic.
If this ruling is allowed to stand, it will hinder anyone who campaigns against anti-Semitism — any Jewish group, any pro-Israel group, even anyone who criticizes radical Islam.
This ruling doesn’t just affect my rights. It’s a setback for freedom for everyone.
There are other parts of the decision where the judge admonishes me for not being more rigorous in my blogging six years ago. I’m open to constructive criticism for self-improvement. I’m not so stubborn that I won’t accept feedback to do better and aim higher, especially on the process of journalism. I will take those parts of the judge’s decision to heart — I already am. But where I keep my stubbornness is on points of principle. Like freedom of speech.
The comments in question were written on my personal blog six years ago, and so I’m footing the legal bills for this fight myself. The cost of the appeal will surely be at least $30,000 — and I’ve got to come up with that right now. If you share my belief that we cannot let this ruling stand please help me appeal this case now, by clicking here to contribute to my legal costs.