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Levant’s show raises ire of Toronto imam 158By Joe Warmington,Toronto Sun
First posted: Monday, April 18, 2011 9:13:52 EDT PM
TORONTO – “Why doesn’t he show his Jewish cousins being fried by the Nazis?” — Imam Steve Rockwell
Ezra Levant said the first time he published the controversial Danish cartoons it was because they were “news.” This time it was for “freedom.” Levant didn’t apologize either time.
And there is more calling it as he sees it to come.
“This is a free country and I am prepared to show them everyday if that helps people understand that,” he said in an interview just after his new show, The Source, debuted on the Sun News Network Monday. He displayed the 12 controversial Muhammad cartoons.
When he ran the Jyllands-Posten drawings that some Muslims felt were disrespectful to the prophet Muhammad in his Western Standard Magazine five years ago, he was “prosecuted” by the Alberta Human Rights Commission which deemed his actions as hate.
When he showed them on his inaugural show, Levant, a columnist, lawyer and broadcaster, drew the ire of prominent Toronto Imam Steve Rockwell of the Downtown Mosque known as the Deedat Centre.
“If he wants freedom of speech why doesn’t he go up to a black man and use the N-word?” asked an angry Rockwell who found Levant’s actions disrespectful. “There is no absolute free speech. With freedom of speech there are rules.”
And Rockwell, who hosts The Call of the Minaret on Vision TV — and will appear Wednesday with Florida Koran-burning Pastor Terry Jones on the John Oakley Show on AM 640 Wednesday — said there are “consequences” for breaking them.
Saying Levant was being discourteous and impertinent to the faith of more than 1 billion people, Rockwell — to make a point — took more shots at Levant’s Jewish roots.
“If he were to show 100 Jews in flames with soap coming out of the other end he would not have a job the next day!” said Rockwell.
But Levant countered the difference between anti-Semitic cartoons and these ones.
“Anti-Semitic cartoons run in newspapers around the world all the time,” he said. “If they were the cause of riots and 200 people dying you are darn right I would run them.”
He joked he would put down his “smoke meat sandwich and cover it in a second.”
Yes folks, Sun News Network is on the air and the fireworks have already begun. It’s going to be lots of fun because it’s going to be damn the torpedoes where all sorts of issues and ideologies will be aired.
Levant has always been a pioneer in taking on the status quo — particularly with this contentious decision to be the first to run the cartoons which no one else in Canada would.
And the affable Rockwell is a no-holds barred defender of Islam.
For taking the stand to run these cartoons in 2006, Levant was faced with “900 days of prosecution” and $100,000 in legal bills before the Alberta Human rights Commission dropped its case.
Now on the air, he says, he is not going to hold back or be censored by anybody.
Rockwell says he will be watching.
There’s going to be some interesting TV to tune into in the months and years ahead.