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Muslim Conference In Canada

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http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=2567900Conference on Muslims in the media too hot for some of its speakersJoseph Brean, National Post Published: Monday, February 15, 2010Stouffville, Ont. -- Western media have a "spiteful policy" toward Iran of inventing "fraudulent" news to "increase false national expectation" and "encourage disturbance," according to the cultural attaché in the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.Hamid Mohammadi said media deception has caused hatred and fear of Muslims by presenting the "false belief that religion is incapable of running a country" and that Iran is therefore illegitimate. He said the result has been political "position changing" by Western countries against Muslims. He quoted an "American thinker," whose name did not come clearly through his strong accent, to the effect that "future wars are in the hands of the media, and their words are more effective than bullets."Somehow, his brief remarks were among the least controversial at a conference about the "Media War on Islam" on Sunday at a Toronto-area Islamic centre, in which the Christmas Day underwear bomber was described as the tool of an Israeli plot; Barack Obama was referred to as "Mr. Black Man"; al-Qaeda was called "the figment of the imagination of the West"; and a video was shown that mocked 9/11 by putting the Muppet Show logo over slow-motion footage of the second plane's impact, with screams of terror for audio.With a police presence and protesters outside, the atmosphere was too hot for some of the speakers advertised in promotional material.Lawyer Khurrum Awan, who brought hate speech complaints against Maclean's magazine with the Canadian Islamic Congress, agreed to speak some time ago, and called it "an error on my part" that he only learned about the other speakers a couple of days before the event. He said he cancelled primarily for fear that his presence could seem to justify the actions of the government of Iran, including its hosting of a 2006 conference on Holocaust denial.Two leaders of the Canadian Arab Federation, Khaled Mouammar and Ali Mallah, did not respond yesterday to requests for comment about why they did not speak as advertised. Neither did James Clark, a prominent anti-war protester.Inside the hall, among the audience of 300 or so, organizer Zafar Bangash welcomed his Iranian guest by quipping that, even with freedom of assembly, the protesters only managed to summon a "pathetic" two dozen to the rural roadside gates of the Islamic Society of York Region.Mr. Bangash also held up for the audience a clear plastic bag full of what he said were burned pages of the Koran, rescued recently from the parking lot of a nearby plaza after protesters -- the same ones who were outside, he said -- set the holy book on fire.He said he told police that if protesters were to trespass, "I guarantee nothing," to which the audience responded with chants of "Allahu Akbar."The program started with a prayer from the Koran, sung beautifully by a boy in Arabic, and translated to English by another boy who, by his tone, clearly understood its message about the punishment of cities for their depravity.In his speech, Mr. Bangash claimed the "Israeli-owned" International Consultants on Targeted Security runs security at Amsterdam airport, and therefore "the Israelis are in control of security," and they allowed the alleged underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, to board a Detroit-bound plane.The company, on its website, states it is "not connected in any way" to security at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.An Iranian propaganda video, set to inspirational music, was a rapid-fire montage of still photos and videos, with militaristic and industrial themes, including footage of scientists at work, and a diagram of atoms labelled U238, the common naturally occurring kind of uranium; and U235, the fissile kind used in bombs.The female narrator spoke about Iran's free elections, equality of women, and its "successful approach to the nuclear issue."The keynote speaker, given the absences, was Michael Keefer, a professor of literary theory at the University of Guelph, who said that all mainstream news media is "systematically fake" because "news editors have internalized the values of their advertisers." He described 9/11 as a "planned demolition" run by Americans, and the Toronto 18 bomb plot, which led to convictions and guilty pleas, as a "police frame-up" over "nothing of significance."He also offered a curious piece of gossip that shows Conrad Black's influence on Canadian media lingers long into his absence.Begging the apology of Mohamed Elmasry, his partner at the Canadian Charger alternative media website, Prof. Keefer told the story of Mr. Elmasry writing to Lord Black to protest treatment of Islam in his many newspapers."Why don't you buzz off," was how Prof. Keefer paraphrased the handwritten reply. "If you want a newspaper to reflect your opinions, why don't you start one of your own?""We have attempted to do just that," Prof. Keefer said.The Canadian Charger is also the publisher of Prof. Keefer's forthcoming book, Anti-Semitism, Real and Imagined.National Postjbrean@nationalpost.com
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