Geller, Spencer event successful despite Muslim group’s efforts
September 24, 2013 | Joanne Hill - Correspondent
Pamela Geller, Robert Spencer (centre) were featured at an event in Markham last week, despite efforts by the National Council of Canadian Muslims to squelch it. Rabbi Daniel Korobkin (right), spiritual leader of the BAYT introduced them.
Despite the best efforts of the National Council of Canadian Muslims (NCCM) to squelch the event, almost 600 people turned up last week to hear Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer speak at the Hilton in Markham.
The NCCM (formerly CAIR-Canada) had already failed to convince the hotel manager to cancel the event. When its subsequent letter-writing campaign to Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Minister Steven Blaney failed to elicit a response, the NCCM called a last-minute press conference at the hotel the day of the event. Speakers at the press conference included Ihsaan Gardee, executive director, NCCM; Karen Mock, representing Canadian Arab Jewish Dialogue, JSpaceCanada and the Canadian Association of Jews and Muslims; United Church Minister Robert Oliphant; Balpreet Singh, spokesperson, World Sikh Organization of Canada, and Samira Kanji, president, Noor Cultural Centre.
Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, spiritual leader of Beth Avraham Yoseph of Toronto (BAYT) Congregation in Thornhill, introduced Geller and Spencer at the event, held by the Jewish Defence League (JDL) of Canada. He said the NCCM should thank Geller instead of condemning her.
“If only the [members of NCCM] would stop their efforts at suppressing the truth about radical Islam, if only they would stop attacking people who are merely speaking the truth, we’d be able to accomplish so much more by working together,” said Rabbi Korobkin.
Geller described herself as “a human rights activist dedicated to freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and equality for all before the law. The font of all my ideas, my premise, is individual rights.”
She encouraged the audience to take steps to resist attempts by Islamists to minimize and legitimize Shari’a (Islamic) law, jihad and ‘honour’ violence. She cited her ad campaigns, which countered anti-Israel ad campaigns on US public transit systems, as an example of fighting back through education.
“You don’t have to be evil like the enemy but you can be relentless,” she said. “You can be the force for good and that’s what you have to do.”
Spencer has been studying the Koran for more than 30 years and he quoted heavily from it in his address.
He said Muslim groups are trying to criminalize negative speech about Islam, including critical analysis of the Islamic religious texts which are used to justify terrorism, on the basis that it is hate speech.
“There are armed Islamic groups all around the world” that use Koranic verses denigrating non-Muslims “to justify hatred and violence and to recruit peaceful Muslims into their group and make them hateful and violent as well. This is a manifest fact,” said Spencer.
Yet the NCCM and other similar groups are “trying to make people think that the hate is not coming from those violent jihadi groups [or] from the pro-Shari’a Islamic supremacists who want to replace our freedoms in the Western world with Islamic law and institutional oppression of women and oppression of non-Muslims, destroy the freedom of speech, destroy the freedom of conscience, mandate the Shari’a death penalty for apostasy: that’s all ‘not hate.’ They want to make you think that the people who are resisting are the ones who are spreading hate.”
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation says “that people like Pamela and me are linking Islam and terrorism in a way that is absolutely unacceptable and, indeed, hateful, but actually – obviously – the people who are linking Islam with terrorism are the terrorists,” Spencer said. “It’s not really a difficult thing: all you have to do is read what they say.”