Coulter tells Ont. Muslim student to 'take a camel'
CTV.ca News Staff
It didn't take long for firebrand U.S. conservative Ann Coulter to live up to her reputation on her Canadian tour, telling a University of Western Ontario Muslim student to "take a camel" as an alternative to flying.
Coulter made the comment Monday night after she received an email about the limits of free speech in Canada from the provost of the University of Ottawa, where she appears Tuesday.
The private email, which was leaked to conservative news organizations, noted that Canada's Charter of Rights meant that "promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges."
Francois Houle, vice-president academic and University of Ottawa provost, invited Coulter to educate herself on Canadian free speech laws.
"We, of course, are always delighted to welcome speakers on our campus and hope that they will contribute positively to the meaningful exchange of ideas that is the hallmark of a great university campus," wrote Houle,
The letter only added fuel to the fire of Coulter's speaking tour, which is titled, "Political Correctness, Media Bias and Freedom of Speech."
"I was the victim of a hate crime and plan to file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission," Coulter said Monday.
Coulter, who wore a short black dress to her speech, is one of the most divisive characters in American conservatism.
She is well-known for her vehement views against Muslims. In a post-September 11 column, she wrote that the U.S. should invade Muslim countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity.
It didn't take long for her widely-criticized views to come out at Western.
The student, Fatima Al-Dhaher, asked Coulter about previous comments in which she said Muslims shouldn't be allowed on airplanes and should take "flying carpets" instead. Al-Dhaher noted she did not own a flying carpet and asked what she should take as an alternative transportation.
Coulter did not deny making the flying carpet comment and replied to the university student: "What mode of transportation? Take a camel" to a mix of jeers and cheers.
Some students walked out after the comment.
"She stabbed me in the heart, she was rude," Al-Dhaher said. "I walked out after she said that."
"As a female, as a Muslim, as a student of this university, I felt an obligation to kind of represent that," the student said of her question.
Coulter spoke in front of a packed audience of about 800 at the university.
It was a decidedly pro-Coulter audience. One man, who identified himself as a U.S. citizen, described U.S. President Barack Obama as a "Marxist."
Wrong approach by U of Ottawa: MPs
Coulter, who often comments on Fox News, once said Canada is "lucky we allow them to exist on the same continent" after the Canadian government did not join the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Her tour was organized by International Free Press Society, a group whose website sets up Islam as the preeminent threat to democracy in the Western world.
"This jihad, like all jihads before it, will continue until a sharia-based caliphate rules the world, or until it is defeated," the society's policy statement says.
The group also sells one of the infamous Danish Mohammad cartoons, signed by cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, for $250. They are currently sold out.
Among the group's board of advisers are Canadian conservative bloggers Ezra Levant and Kathy Shaidle, author Mark Steyn and far-right Dutch political leader Geert Wilders.
Coulter reportedly commands a $10,000 speaking fee. Her fee is being covered in part by the Claire Boothe Luce Policy Institute, an American group that calls itself the "home of conservative women leaders."
Some critics say trying to quiet Coulter is the wrong approach to discrediting her views.
"In terms of putting limits on what she ... should say or shouldn't say, I'm not sure that helps," New Democrat MP Paul Dewar, told The Canadian Press. "It might add fuel to the fire that she will be probably starting tomorrow."
Liberal MP Scott Brison made a similar comment.
"If you don't agree with what she has to say, then ignore her," he said.
Coulter's Canadian tour wraps up at the University of Calgary on Thursday.