Free speech or Hate speech

On Feb. 14 2005 CP reported that “six sites that fomented hatred against Jews or advocated terrorism or suicide-bombing have been pulled by the host in Kelowna, B.C.” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Simon Weisenthal Centre, was surprised to find such sites hosted in Canada because Canadian ISP’s have done “the best job in the last six or seven years of self-policing”. The Criminal Code of Canada contains sections pertaining to hate propaganda as does the Canada Human Rights Act. The press release issued by the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center lists the six sites that were removed. Three of the six sites were back online the next day after switching hosting providers. Five of the six are now online, all hosted in the U.S.A.

One of the removed sites,, contains a flag that carries the inscription “There is no other God but Allah”. There is no hateful text or text advocating suicide bombings. The issue, as noted in the press release, is that this flag appears to be the same flag as used by Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a group that is not on the U.S. State Department’s list of terrorist organizations or Canada’s version of the list.* Does this flag meet the requirements of hate speech under Canadian law?

Questions remain about the process through which these site were removed. It is unclear if the RCMP closed the sites (the web services manager of the hosting company Rack Force stated that Rack Force had been working with the RCMP on the matter of hate sites) or if the decision was taken solely by RackForce Hosting Inc.

In response to a request for information Rack Force stated:

The removal of these sites has been accurately discussed in the news and there is no further comment on the issue from RackForce.

I emailed the Toronto-based Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center who responded and forwarded me to someone else who I phoned, but was never able to interview.

* These lists are the most recent I could find, additional groups may have been added since these lists were created.

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