In a sense, it's the denouement to the climax of Parliament's repeal of Section 13 of the Human Rights Commission Act. That shift in Canada's political tectonic plates happened, in large measure, as a result of the failed effort by some Canadian Islamic Congress activists to punish Macleans magazine for publishing an article by Mark Steyn which was critical of the influence of Islam on North American society.
Without rehashing all the previous cases, suffice it to say that Islamic activists like to use legal means to try to silence their critics such as courageous people like Steyn and pundit Ezra Levant, who fought a government "Human Rights" establishment which has no regard for the most basic human right of free expression.
The case currently being dealt with in court is a law suit by Khurram Awan, one of the complainants against Steyn and Macleans, for libel against Levant.
In some blog posts, Levant had accused Awan of being antisemitic, a liar and a perjurer. Awan is a lawyer, a profession which takes honesty and integrity very seriously, and the assertions Levant made have the potential to harm Awan's reputation. So the question the court has to establish is whether, in the balance of probabilities, the charges made by Levant about Awan are true.
Wednesday's installment of the trial had some distinguished observers, including Mark Steyn and The National Post's Christie Blatchford. In the less distinguished category, I was there too, but I did hear most of Awan's testimony that day and thought there were some very strange aspects to it.
Awan testified that in 2006, he was the President of the youth division of the Canadian Islamic Congress. Under cross-examination, Awan said that he agreed that support for the genocidal, Jew-hating organizations Hamas and Hezbollah could be interpreted as being antisemitic and that he agreed with the Canadian government's designation of them as terrorist groups.
However during the time Awan was the President of the youth division of the Canadian Islamic Congress, that organization issued a press release condemning the government's terror designation of Hamas and Hezbollah, effectively providing support to the two terror groups.
Awan said that he was not aware of the CIC's position on Hamas and Hezbollah when they issued their support and only became aware of it some time later. Mr. Awan, at that time, was a law student. When I was younger than Mr. Awan, I was the Vice-President of my local riding's federal Liberal Youth Association, and I was aware of major policy initiatives when they were announced, and that was in the days before the Internet.
So Mr. Awan effectively testified that he, someone who was attending law school and was the very top person of the youth division of a national advocacy organization, didn't see an email of the press release from his organization and was unaware of one of their most important, controversial policy positions. Under oath, Awan claimed his role as head of the Canadian Islamic Congress Youth was to encourage legal and political advocacy for Muslim youth. How exactly he could encourage political advocacy without actually being aware of the important political positions of his organization was not addressed during any of his testimony that I heard. But if true, it suggests the Canadian Islamic Congress had a grossly incompetent Youth President in the person of Mr. Awan.
One observer at the trial referred to Awan's position as the "Sergeant Shultz defense," invoking the bumbling character from the 1960's TV show Hogan's Heroes, best known for the catch-phrase, "I know nothing! I see nothing!"
That was somewhat reinforced when Awan appeared to express surprise, in response to a question placed by Levant's counsel, that violence could be a component of jihad.
Islamic "jihad" is a religious obligation for Muslims. There are some interpretations that jihad can take the form of an internal, spiritual struggle for improvement. But the most widely understood meaning of Jihad is of its literal translation, which is holy war. For an erudite individual well versed in the tenets of Islam, such as Mr. Awan, to effect surprise that violence is a factor in jihad is about as plausible as if an educated Christian were to feign shock that the Crusades involved actual warfare.
Mr. Awan thought it hurtful that he could be considered antisemitic, yet he was the Youth President of an antisemitic organization. That characterization of the Canadian Islamic Congress came from federal Immigration and Citizenship Minister Jason Kenney.
Along with the Canadian Islamic Congress, Kenney ended contact with The Canadian Arab Federation and Palestine House because of the support for terrorism and antisemitism that all three organizations expressed.
The Canadian Arab Federation attempted to sue Mr. Kenney, and less than three months ago, a federal court ruled that Mr. Kenney's characterization of that organization as antisemitic and supportive of terrorism was reasonable and ordered the Arab group to pay the Minister's court costs.
There were plenty of other inconsistencies and oddities in the testimony of Mr. Awan, who may be telling the truth. But for me the oddest thing was that if Awan is telling the truth, then in using a defense by which he effectively asserts his own ignorance and incompetence, he seems to be doing far more harm to his own reputation than anything written about him by Ezra Levant.