January 21, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 61  

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NEWS

Mid-East flyer causes uproar
USC considering sanctions for club

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff
 
POSTING HATRED? The distribution of flyers in the UCC atrium that allegely contains hateful material has created an uproar within certain University Students' Council-run clubs.

A series of incidents last week involving literature and posters distributed by Middle East clubs will force the University Students’ Council to inspect all contentious Clubs Week material in the future, after a flood of complaints from students.

In a letter to the editor, second-year political science student Sherie McKenzie recounted her shock at receiving a flyer from the Israel Action Committee during last week’s Clubs Week, which showed an image of the World Trade Center burning and read, “Of 28 armed conflicts today, 25 involve Muslim forces against a non-Muslim army.”

“Apparently [the flyer] was on the table by accident,” said Matthew Fisher, the IAC’s media chair. He noted the remainder of the flyer’s text moderated that statement .

A copy of the flyer, provided by the IAC, read: “When will moderate Muslims reclaim Islam from their extremist leaders?” It also defined several terms, including Dhimmi: second-class status relegated to Christians and Jews under Muslim regimes, and Dar al-Harb: parts of the world yet to be conquered under the sword of Islam.

“This grotesque flyer stirred flashbacks of Sept. 11, and I was enraged by the flyer’s explicit suggestion that Muslims are responsible for almost all the conflicts in the world and the attacks on the WTC,” McKenzie stated in her letter.

Adrienne Kennedy, the USC’s VP-campus issues, said she received many complaints similar to McKenzie’s. “In the past, material used during Clubs Week was not reviewed [by the USC], but in the future, all material will be reviewed by [USC] Reservations and the USC,” Kennedy confirmed.

“[The flyer] is religiousizing the issue and spreading hate on campus,” said Hussan Ayyad, president of Solidarity for Palestinian Human Rights.

Politically-charged material distributed by several clubs have sparked controversy this year. “We are currently in the process of re-drafting our poster policy,” Kennedy said, explaining this is due to complaints received about posters by several campus clubs.

Fisher said the IAC put up a series of posters last week and by Monday they were all gone. “Every one was replaced by SPHR posters,” he said. “They were strongly anti-Israel [and] they used some very contentious wording.”

“There is no need to reverse the table and ask why we are taking down posters,” Ayyad said, citing an incidence of SPHR posters being stolen on Friday, Jan. 16. “In the tunnel between [the University Community Centre] and the Social Science Centre, six posters were put up and an hour later [they were] all gone.

“I am not pointing fingers; I do not know who’s been taking [the SPHR] posters down — there is a larger problem here. The mentality of the students taking down the posters reflects the nature of the conflict; the other side does not intend to listen or understand,” Ayyad said.

In an e-mail obtained by The Gazette, Randa Mouammar, an executive of SPHR, alleged that s. 319(2) of the Canada Criminal Code (willful promotion of hatred) as well as USC regulations were broken by the IAC. “Does the USC honestly believe that, in their dealings with the IAC, they have effectively addressed the gravity of the offenses committed?” she asked in the e-mail.

“I am confident in saying that the USC acknowledges the gravity of the issue and is dealing with it very seriously — the process is still ongoing as to what further sanctions will occur,” Kennedy said. “It is difficult to say now because the issue [has been turned over] to the clubs policy committee.”

 

 

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