Canadian libel case hinges on how many Jews Muslim cleric wants 'eradicated'
On June 27, 2018, the Facebook page of New Democrats for BDS, Stephen Ellis, a Toronto-based barrister and solicitor, posted "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE," a legal notice saying: "So-called 'Hate Preacher' Serves Libel Notices on MP, right-wing media."
Sheikh Shafiq Hudda accuses several organizations and individuals of defaming him because they misquoted him as wishing for the "eradication" of all 8.2 million Israelis. In fact, he claims, he was praying for the "eradication" of only 6 million Israeli Zionists.
Sheikh Shafiq Hudda's lawyer's statement reads:
Over the past week, Sheikh Shafiq Hudda and the Islamic Humanitarian Service (which Hudda directs) both of Kitchener, Ontario, have served Libel Notices on several organizations and individuals, including, but not limited to, the following: B'nai Brith Canada, The Toronto Sun, The Center for Jewish and Israeli Affairs (CIJA) and Peter Kent (MP-Thornhill), Waterloo Region Record.
The serving of a Libel Notice is a requirement under Canada's Libel and Slander Act to sue for defamation.
"My clients intend to sue for the wildly defamatory comments made by each of these organizations and individuals following the Al-Quds rally of June 9, 2018," said lawyer Stephen Ellis. "My clients have been accused of preaching hate and calling for genocide when a clear and honest look at the words spoken show a call for an end to unjust empires the world over."
"The yearly Al-Quds event is attacked because it symbolizes resistance to Israeli apartheid. In my opinion, supporters of the apartheid system have launched an attack on Sheikh Hudda by deliberately taking his words out of context, painting him as a monster. Luckily, there's a legal remedy for such acts."
The lawyer also enclosed the relevant transcript of Sheikh Shafiq Hudda's speech:
"I am praying for a day to come in our lifetime, where we won't need the Al-Quds rally because Palestine will be free. Oppression will be eradicated; injustice will end, that's the day we pray for. So we don't have to meet every Saturday in the holy month of Ramadan. This is our prayer to the almighty creator, whether you call him God or Allah. You call him Jehovah or whatever name you want to call him. We pray to the creator and to the almighty, a day will come when we see justice throughout the world. The eradication of the unjust powers such as the American empire, such as the Israeli Zionists. And the same way that we saw the British Empire wither away, the sun never set on it... the sun sets on it. We will see a day coming inshallah, God willing in our lifetime, where this empire, the Zionist empire, the American empire will be down in the dustbins of history inshallah God willing." –Sheikh Shafiq Hudda, June 9, 2018
The organizations and individuals who were served the notice quoted Sheikh Shafiq Hudda as calling for the "eradication" of "Israelis," "the Israelis," "the Israelis and the Zionists," and "all Israelis."
The defamation argument, in this case, revolves around the meaning of "eradication" and the object of it. According to his lawyer, Sheikh Shafiq Hudda said: "We pray to the creator and to the almighty, a day will come when we see justice throughout the world. The eradication of the unjust powers such as the American empire, such as the Israeli Zionists." Indeed, Sheikh Shafiq Hudda's lawyers claim he wished the eradication of only "the Israeli Zionists" and not all Israelis, as alleged by the accused.
According to Israel's Central Bureau of Statistics' report in April 2018, the population of Israel was 8,248,000, including 6,985,000 Jews and 1,948,000 Arabs. The number of "Israeli Zionists," Jews and non-Jews who believe that the Jewish people have a religious, historical, national right to settle in Eretz Israel/Palestine, is estimated at 6 million.
One hopes the Canadian courts will refuse even to consider this absurd case.