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Canadian Muslim student suing for defamation over Charter debate

30th May 2014

Canadian Muslim student suing for defamation over Charter debate

Elham Asaad Buaras

A Canadian Muslim woman is suing two people and a web site because she claims they said defamatory things about her after she appeared on a TV show to defend her right to wear the hijab.
Dalila Awada, 24, alleges the defendants posted defamatory material about her after she spoke against a charter that would have banned religious garb on public servant on a popular Quebec talk show Tout le monde en parle last September.

In her lawsuit, filed in Quebec Superior Court earlier this month, Sociology student Awada claims one of the defendants Philippe Magnan posted a series of videos and messages on social media sites and his own blog accusing her of infiltrating a women’s federation to support the niqab.

The video says she associates with groups that she says she has no links to, such as the World Islamic League, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Canadian Islamic Congress.

After the video appeared online, Louise Mailloux, an anti-religion CEGEP professor who compares male circumcision and baptism to rape, sent out numerous emails containing erroneous information about Awada, the lawsuit claims.

It also claims that the website Vigile.net published several pejorative articles about Awada that she says paints her as a manipulator working for Muslim fundamentalists.

Awada said the unsubstantiated video has led to her receiving several hate-messages via email and Facebook page. In a second video, Awada claims her image is used in a way that suggests she’s associated with stoning, decapitation and cutting off hands. Another suggests she is infiltrating the separatist party Québec solidaire.

‘By posting defamatory and erroneous information about her over a period of six months, the defendants tried to ruin Awada’s reputation and created hate toward her,’ the lawsuit claims.

From October 2013 on, she was bombarded with hateful messages from people convinced that she was a terrorist. Her student email inbox filled to capacity in one day and she lost many friends, the suit says.

As a result, Awada claims, she suffers from insomnia, heart palpitations and headaches. She feels constantly stressed, waiting for the next damaging article to surface. She became depressed and had to drop out of school last semester.

In her lawsuit, Awada says she will donate any money she receives from the case to the Fondation paroles de femmes, a non-profit organization that promotes and defends Quebec women who speak out publicly in support of interfaith and cross-cultural dialogue and against intimidation and harassment.

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