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Monday, March 14, 2011

Syed Soharwardy threatened by “bag lunch” suggestion

In a statement issued this evening, Calgary Iman Syed Soharwardy of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada revealed that he has received an email containing "threatening" statements directed toward him from an Alberta man allegedly known to police.

According to Soharwardy, he received death threats in 2009 from this same individual who, after Calgary Police investigated the matter, was given only a warning.

"Unfortunately, the hate crimes and threats of violence against Muslims are not taken seriously by the police. I have received several threats and all of them have been reported to police but the outcome of police investigations has never been more than warnings," said Soharwardy.

Soharwardy included the content of the most recent email he received from the unnamed northern Alberta man as evidence of the new threat. But other than a few ugly words, it is not clear that any credible or imminent threat was made in the email that would warrant a police investigation.

The email makes reference to the growing "backlash" against Islam and that the West is now "awake." Whatever one might think of the War on Terror, I'd call the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan a “backlash” against the events of 9/11 that has caused the Western public to be jolted "awake" to the threat of international terrorism.

Slightly more menacing, when taken out of context, are these words from the email:

"Are you frightened Syed Soharwardy?.....do you feel the breath of the storm on your neck?...are you particularly comfortable knowing that hundreds of millions have now turned their attention on you and your ilk, turned their attention on Muslims? Muslims; the most depraved, sick, murderous, blackhearted forms of life to ever walk the face of the earth.”

It’s clear the email writer dislikes Soharwardy and Muslims -- he hates them…a lot -- but what he has in store for Soharwardy can hardly constitute a threat.

First, more hostility:

"Muslims, like yourself Soharwardy, who wrap their women in sack cloth and force them to grovel, force them to lead lives of servitude and abject misery. Muslim men according their wives less consideration than a stray dog."

Now, the so-called threat:

"Mr. Soharwardy, I sincerely hope that I am at the airport to hand you and every member of your family, both immediate and extended, a bag lunch for your flight back to some dark toilet of a third world Islamic country. You can send us emails from there...telling us all about the 'religion of peace'....and 'your islam'.”

Again, the email writer doesn't like Soharwardy, a man made famous for launching an Alberta Human Rights Commission complaint against the Western Standard and publisher Ezra Levant, who was forced to carry the cost of the complaint personally when the Western Standard print edition was shut down. But the email writer has nothing more sinister planned for Soharwardy than to be on hand with a “bag lunch” should the day ever come when, after due process of law, Soharwardy is deported for treason.

Where’s the threat?

Whether or not the content of the email meets the criminal standard for hate is another matter.

In my dealings with Soharwardy I have found him to be a pretty normal guy…a media hound, but not a religious extremist. I actually find him likable even after he publicly threatened to take me and our online Western Standard magazine before the Canadian Human Rights Commission for comments made on our then-unmoderated blog by anonymous agitators.

I suppose I have good reason to hate Soharwardy, and so do Western Standard readers and the countless other Canadians who stood by Ezra Levant in his battle for free speech against the AHRC. But I don’t hate him; I’ve learned to forgive Soharwardy, and I have no hostility for Muslims...never have. The email writer from northern Alberta, however, is not ready to forgive. Should that be a crime...a thought crime?

Calgary Police should tell Soharwardy, a hyper-sensitize would-be censor, to learn to deal with the consequences of being a noisy public figure in a liberal democracy.

Posted by Matthew Johnston on March 14, 2011 | Permalink | Comments (36)