OTTAWA — A Canadian Muslim organization wants the Ottawa Public Library to cancel a speech by a controversial British lawyer who advocates legal tactics to block the construction of new mosques in the U.K.
Self-proclaimed “mosquebuster” Gavin Boby is scheduled to speak at the library on Monday night, the first stop on a Canadian speaking tour that will also take him to Montreal and Toronto.
Boby is the founder of an organization called Law and Freedom Foundation, which he says is devoted to “resisting the tide of Islam” by using the municipal planning process to oppose the building of mosques.
Mosques, Boby contends, act as bridgeheads within Western society for the advance of Islam. They are unlike Christian churches because they are “primarily socio-political. Where you get a constellation of mosques you will get followers of Islam congregating,” he says.
Boby encourages residents living near planned mosques to raise concerns about increased traffic or noise to convince British municipal councils to block their construction, instead of focusing on political issues that draw charges of Islamaphobia. His organization claims to have successfully opposed the construction of 16 planned mosques in 17 planning application challenges in Britain.
The Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR. CAN) calls Boby an “anti-Muslim hate-monger” and “openly Islamophobic.” It points to media reports that say Boby has past links to the far-right English Defence League and claim he has said Islam encourages pedophilia, sex abuse and “pimping.”
CAIR.CAN says his appearance will violate the library’s rules that prohibit use of facilities for activities that contravene the Ontario Human Rights Code or the Criminal Code of Canada – specifically, hate speech.
“What we take issue with is the fact that he’s being afforded a taxpayer subsidized venue as a soapbox for his message,” said CAIR.CAN executive director Ihsaan Gardee. “Canadian Muslims shouldn’t be asked to help foot the bill for somebody who is sending a message that basically denigrates them.”
Gardee says he believes Boby should be allowed to speak in Canada but just not at a publicly-funded venue. He has not objection to Boby’s planned events at Hotel Ruby Foo’s hotel in Montreal and the Zionist Centre in Toronto, both private venues.
“We would be taking this exact same position if it was somebody coming to speak about preventing synagogues or gurdwaras being built.”
Gardee says his group raised its objection with library but was told the facility was open to the public provided its policies are not breached.
CAIR.CAN last week sent out an alert to members encouraging them to write to library and the Ottawa city councillors on the library board.
Neither the library nor any of the councillors on the board responded to an email from the Citizen requesting comment on Saturday.
CAIR.CAN says Boby’s Canadian tour is hosted by ACT! For Canada, which describes itself as a grassroots organization defending national security and Canadian democratic values.
ACT! For Canada’s website, however, is given over almost entirely to discussions of Islam and terrorism, much of it highly inflammatory. The most recent edition of its newsletter, for example, claims Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is a bestseller in Muslim countries.
Neither Gavin’s group nor ACT! For Canada responded to requests for comment.