Mark Steyn's would-be censor sues me -- and I'm going to fight back
Awan's jihad: lawfare
Awan is the shakedown artist who targeted Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine with three human rights complaints in 2008, for Steyn's political offence of criticizing radical Islam. Awan lost those suits, and his demand to censor Maclean's was rejected, but he still managed to waste a lot of Maclean’s money – and even more taxpayers’ money, too.
That’s Awan’s strategy: abuse our courts to bully his opponents. It’s a shocking thing for a lawyer to admit to, but Awan isn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer. As he told an anti-Semitic meeting in British Columbia a while back, he was proud to have “cost Maclean’s two million dollars in legal expenses and lost circulation.” Awan’s friend, the notorious anti-Semite Greg Felton, approvingly quotes Awan saying “we attained out strategic objective—to increase the cost of publishing anti-Islamic material”.
So it’s not about justice. It’s not about “human rights”. It’s about abusing our legal system to punish his enemies.
Mark Steyn and Maclean’s magazine were first. And now I’m next in line.
This is the soft jihad of “lawfare”, the strategy where anti-Western radicals use our own laws to attack us, rather than pantybombs or shoebombs.
It’s Awan’s little jihad. And because I’ve criticized him (and the human rights commissions he hijacked), he’s coming for me now.
What kind of people are Awan and the CIC?
I won’t go through Awan’s entire history again; if you’re interested, I’d encourage you to read my biography of him when he first threatened me, last summer. But here are a few highlights.
Awan was the president of the CIC’s youth wing, loyally standing by the CIC’s president, Mohammed Elmasry, when he declared on national TV that every adult Israeli was a legitimate target for a terrorist attack.
You can watch that clip here, courtesy of SDA Matt:
Elmasry's the kind of guy who puts the KKK in klassy.
For years Awan was Elmasry’s mini-me. But he moved out from under Elmasry’s shadow when he became the PR front man for the CIC’s human rights nuisance suits against Steyn and Maclean’s.
Awan was not actually the complainant in those complaints. He was one of Elmasry’s sock puppets, a ventriloquist dummy for Elmasry’s attack on the Canadian values of freedom of the press and freedom of religion. Elmasry needed puppets, because he had damaged his own reputation so badly with his televised comments. But here’s an interview where Elmasry boasts that Awan was little more than Elmasry’s stooge. And Awan was only too happy to comply.
Elmasry was smart enough not to sue in real court. Not Awan.
But even Elmasry wasn’t stupid enough to sue Maclean’s in defamation court, where truth is a defence. And though he whined when I wrote this about him, he was smart enough not to sue.
Which is why I’m looking forward so much to Awan’s trial. He isn't smart enough not to sue.
Khurrum Awan and Mohamed Elmasry hurt their reputations by attacking Maclean’s – and the Canadian value of freedom. They were almost universally denounced.
They lost their human rights complaints, but they weren’t stuck with Maclean’s legal bills as they would have been in real court. And they never really underwent any true scrutiny – unlike in real courts, they escaped any meaningful examination of their own foul conduct.
Awan is about to find out that real courts are a lot more even-handed than the kangaroo courts he manipulated.
Another junk lawsuit
Let’s take a quick look through his nuisance lawsuit together.
The first thing to note are the dates. Awan is suing me for my in-the-courthouse reports on the CIC’s human rights complaints, back in June of 2008. But he didn’t bother to serve a libel notice on me until July of 2009, more than a year later. And then it took him nearly another six months to serve the suit itself, which my lawyer received over Christmas.
That’s 18 months after I wrote what I wrote. Which shows Awan’s strategy: this isn’t about correcting the record in a timely manner. It’s about punishing a political opponent.
The next interesting thing in the suit is that Awan describes himself as a lawyer. But a quick glance at the Law Society’s website shows that he is not in fact registered to practice law. I wonder why that is. After all, he was articling at Lerner’s, the same firm as Faisal Joseph, the lead CIC lawyer suing Maclean’s. Why didn’t Joseph keep him on? Competence? Politics? Not enough business? I’m quite curious. Aren’t you? I’m excited that I'll learn about it in open court.
Awan’s lawyer in this lawsuit is Brian Shiller, the same lawyer representing Richard Warman and Warren Kinsella in their nuisance lawsuits against me (and many others they've targeted for silencing, including Kathy Shaidle, Kate McMillan and Free Dominion). Awan, Warman and Kinsella are all part of the same censorship cabal.
I’ve pointed out some of Shiller’s hilarious legal drafting errors in the past, and this lawsuit is no different. See paragraph 4: he manages to misspell the word Maclean’s (he writes it with a capital l) and to write the plural of Muslim as “Muslim’s” – with an apostrophe. Those aren’t important errors, of course. But they go to the sloppiness of Shiller’s work. But when you’re filing nuisance suits, it’s good enough.
Khurrum Awan is a serial liar
The main thrust of Awan’s suit is that I call him a liar. Well, he is a liar – and it was all revealed that day in court, when I wrote about it. Awan and his fellow sock puppets had repeatedly told the public that they had asked Maclean’s to publish a lengthy pro-Muslim essay, to rebut an article by Steyn, and that the rebuttal would be written by a “mutually acceptable” author. But under cross-examination by Maclean’s lawyer, Julian Porter, Awan admitted he had never asked Maclean’s to run a “mutually acceptable” article – he had demanded that they run a piece written by someone solely of the CIC’s choosing. The "mutually acceptable" thing was a lie told to the media, designed to make Awan and the CIC look more reasonable to the public. Here’s what I wrote when that lie was exposed on June 3, 2008. It’s a blog entry called Khurrum Awan is a serial liar:
Julian Porter himself was at the meeting where Khurrum Awan and his junior Al Sharptons tried to shake down Ken Whyte and Maclean's for cash and a cover story.
Porter asked Awan point blank if the CIC's proposed "counter-article" was to be "mutually acceptable" to Whyte or of the CIC's own choosing.
After obfuscating for a few rounds, Awan acknowledged that he never in fact offered a "mutually acceptable" article -- that was simply an after-the-fact lie, a little bit of taqqiya that Awan et al. has told the press.
Awan admitted that he made no such offer of a mutually acceptable author. It was to be the CIC's own choice.
For an example of just how often Awan told that lie, let me recommend to you Colby Cosh’s notes on the subject.
That’s the bulk of Awan’s case. But let me point out one other little quirk: at paragraph 26, Awan claims that he “has been shunned by former friends” because of my blogging. That’s fascinating. I can hardly wait to learn the details about those friends – who they are, what they thought of Awan before they read my blog, how they decided to “shun” Awan afterwards, and what exactly it was that caused the change: Awan's actions, or my blogging about his actions. (Do you think he’ll actually name names, or do you think he’ll mumble and crumble, like he did under Porter’s cross-examination in 2008?)
Awan’s lawsuit is for $50,000 plus costs. It’s not an enormous amount of money, but it will probably cost me $50,000 just to defend against it, plus a week at trial in another city.
Let's go on the offensive. (They hate that!)
But here’s a question that has me pretty excited: can we turn lemons into lemonade here? By that I mean, instead of just fighting this lawsuit passively, what if I could use it to go on the offensive, and really root around inside the Canadian Islamic Congress, and expose their anti-Semitic, anti-Canadian ways? The trial will be partly about what I’ve written -- no problem. But it will equally be about Awan’s reputation, and that of the CIC. It will give me a chance to ask Awan questions he’s never been asked before, and to see documents he’s never had to disclose before.
I’ll be able to expose the CIC for the venomous outfit that it is. I can picture spending at least an hour talking with Awan about his organization’s call for the decriminalization of Hamas and Hezbollah terrorist groups.
My friends, I don’t like being sued. But I have to tell you, of all the junk lawsuits thrown at me because of my campaign for free speech – and there have been plenty – this one is in some ways the most important. If I handle this one right, I can expose the true nature of the CIC and the radical Islamist, pro-terrorist groups in Canada with whom Awan has consorted.
Let me quote a Jew now, just because it will irritate Awan. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote nearly 100 years ago, “publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” I'm going to bring some klieg lights to trial on this one.
I believe that nothing will disinfect our public square better than scrutiny and publicity of how illiberal Islamic fascists are waging war against our values. I hope that the lasting impact of this trial will be the complete and final detonation of the CIC’s credibility.
Bring it on.
Can you help me, please?
As I mentioned, this lawsuit will probably cost me $50,000 to fight. And it’s just one of many suits and complaints that the same cabal has hit me with, again and again.
Over the past two years I’ve been hit with three human rights complaints, over twenty complaints to the law society and this is the fifth defamation suit. That's 28 suits and complaints. And they’re all junk lawsuits – SLAPP suits designed to shut me up.
I won the three human rights cases, and the first twenty law society complaints have all been dismissed. So far I have a perfect track record: 23 out of 23. Unfortunately, even if you win these sorts of nuisance complaints, you don’t get your legal costs back, so it’s been expensive.
If you’d like to help me, I’d appreciate it. It's expensive fighting two dozen legal fights, even if they are junk. I think that a "normal" person would try to get out of a lawsuit like this – make a settlement, withdraw from the public square, and don't criticize radical Islam or censorship anymore. But I don’t want to submit like that – I want to use this lawsuit to expose the truth about Awan and the CIC. And I certainly don’t want this suit to change what I say or do in my life, especially my ability to criticize radical Islam and its politically correct allies.
If you believe in fighting back against these bullies, please help me out. You can chip in by PayPal, by clicking on the button below. If you’d prefer to send in a cheque by snail mail, that’s great. Please make cheques payable to my lawyer:
“Christopher Ashby in Trust”
Attn: Ezra Levant defence fund
Suite 1013, 8 King Street East
Toronto, Ontario, M5C 1B5
Thank you very much. I promise to fight this battle all the way to the end.
"I am not a registered non-profit organization. Donations are not tax deductible for federal income tax purposes."