Maclean's editor responds to CIC allegations
Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Whyte responds to Canadian Islamic Congress claim that he "prefers bankruptcy over balance"
Kate Lunau | Dec 04, 2007 | 21:52:46
Maclean's has responded to an allegation by the Canadian Islamic Congress(CIC)that, during a meeting between several law students representing the CIC, and magazine staff to discuss concerns over an article entitled "The Future Belongs to Islam," Editor-in-Chief Kenneth Whyte "indicated that Maclean's would rather go bankrupt than allow a response to the article." The allegation was made in a Dec. 4 CIC press release and repeated in a press conference on the same day.
On Dec. 5, Whyte issued the following statement to clarify what happened at the meeting: "The student lawyers in question came to us five months after the story ran. They asked for an opportunity to respond. We said that we had already run many responses to the article in our letters section, but that we would consider a reasonable request. They wanted a five-page article, written by an author of their choice, to run without any editing by us, except for spelling and grammar. They also wanted to place their response on the cover and to art direct it themselves.
"We told them we didn't consider that a reasonable request for response. When they insisted, I told them I would rather go bankrupt than let somebody from outside of our operations dictate the content of the magazine. I still feel that way."
In fact, Maclean's published a total of 27 letters over two issues in response to Steyn's piece—more published responses than any other cover story has received over the past year.
The CIC, which describes itself as "Canada's largest national non-profit and wholly independent Islamic organization," has launched human rights complaints against Maclean's in response to the article "The Future Belongs to Islam," an excerpt from Mark Steyn's book "America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It." The article appeared in the magazine's Oct. 23, 2006 issue.
At a Dec. 4 press conference, CIC lead counsel Faisal Joseph said that complainants were seeking "equal space [in the magazine] to respond to what we feel is an Islamophobic and unfair article." He continued: "All we wanted was equal space and equal time, not a little letter to the editor."
Maclean's provided the following response to the CIC's human rights complaints launched against the magazine: "Mark Steyn is a thoughtful and experienced journalist, and the piece was a commentary on important global political issues. Maclean's is confident that the Human Rights Commissions will find no merit in the complaints."
Members of the Muslim Canadian Congress, a grassroots organization, were also present at the press conference—but came to show their support for Maclean's. "Labelling Canada's premier weekly news magazine as a carrier of Islamophobic literature is a thinly veiled attack on freedom of press that will serve no purpose other than to reinforce the stereotype that Muslims have little empathy for vigorous debate and democracy," MCC president Farzana Hassan said in a press release.
Click here to read Mark Steyn's "The Future Belongs to Islam," the excerpt Maclean's published from his book, "America Alone"
"Curiously, the four complainants in the case are all law students or graduates from York University's Osgoode Hall. You might think that law students, of all people, would be very big on stuff like civil liberties, tolerance and free speech. I guess not."
- Margaret Wente, Dec. 6 in The Globe and Mail