September 24, 2012
Protesters call for death of man allegedly connected to anti-Muslim film
By Jessica Hume, QMI Agency
OTTAWA - The government is appalled by calls from protesters to kill the man allegedly behind the "Innocence of Muslims" film.
More than 2,000 people attended a weekend demonstration outside the U.S. consulate in Toronto. Many held signs with peaceful messages, such as "I love Jesus because I'm a Muslim." Others, however, were captured on camera calling for the death of Nakoula Basseley Nakoula - the man thought to be behind the video that has sparked outrage and often violent protests in more than 25 countries.
"If anyone called for violence, that it outrageous, and I suspect it may even be a criminal offence," Citizenship and Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said Monday. "This is a land of freedom of expression -- we believe that is a universal value. [But] obviously we believe people should not seek to offend."
A spokeman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews strongly condemned the calls for violence but added that Canada "is not immune to issues of radicalization that leads to violent extremism."
"While it is abhorrent to denigrate the religion of any Canadian, freedom of speech is a right that all Canadians enjoy," Julie Carmichael said in a statement.
NDP MP Jinny Sims wasn't sure whether calls for Nakoula's death constituted hate speech, but said there were "better ways" to deal with disagreements than with violence.
Saturday's protest was organized by the relatively unknown Canadians Against Blasphemy (which has no website) and the American group Muslim Congress, which describes its objective as "working to advance the Muslim cause." The event's theme was that "freedom of speech is not a licence to spread hatred, bigotry and Islamophobia."