Calls for the reinstatement of a suspended Mississauga Catholic school teacher turned into a heated debate about freedom of speech between a human rights panel and journalists. The discussion was in response to the teacher’s remarks at an anti-Israel rally where Nadia Shoufani voiced her support for the popular front for the Liberation of Palestine, a group listed by the Canadian government as a terrorist organization.
Last month the teacher spoke at a rally where she criticized the arrest of a known terrorist who killed U.S. and Israeli officials and showed support on Facebook for a man who brutally killed a 4 year old girl in Israel. The self proclaimed human rights panel, which included two professors from McMaster University, says regardless of profession, every Canadian has the right to free speech.
“The point isn’t that we agree with everything Ms. Shoufani says, the point is that she has a right to speak as her conscience urges her.”
But when a reporter decided to ask a question, to speak as her conscience urged her, she was shot down repeatedly.
“If the shoe were on the other foot and I stood up at the Al-quds rally and said all Muslims are terrorists and I was a teacher at the Toronto District School Board, would you not be calling for my head?” Reporter.
“My answer to you is that it’s disgraceful for a Canadian journalist, yourself, to sit here and accuse members of this panel of being disseminators of hatred” Professor Michael Keefer, University of Guelph.
Another journalist stepped in and questioned the professor’s response.
“So it’s disgraceful for my colleague to speak but it’s not disgraceful for this teacher to speak?”
In an execution of free speech, the professor moved the question period along.
The board launched an investigation in July and has forwarded claims of concern to the Ontario College of Teachers. Shoufani has been suspended with pay.