OTTAWA — In the wake of a mass shooting at two New Zealand mosques on Friday that left 49 dead and many others seriously injured, Conservative MPs have cancelled an event planned for Monday in Ottawa that was to feature a controversial speaker who has been accused of Islamophobia.
Conservative MP Garnett Genuis announced Friday afternoon that the event would not be proceeding as planned. “Our friends in the Muslim community are now reeling from one of the most horrific and appalling terrorist attacks to ever target their community,” he wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “Out of respect for them, now is not the time for a conversation that could have been misconstrued to take place on Parliament Hill.”
Statement re Cox event. pic.twitter.com/FiMJA06BYK
— Garnett Genuis (@GarnettGenuis) March 15, 2019
The reception planned for Monday, to be hosted by Genuis and Conservative MP Kelly Block, featured Baroness Caroline Cox, a member of the British House of Lords, as a keynote speaker, and was to promote women’s rights in the Middle East. However, Cox has previously come under fire for making controversial comments about Islam, and has been accused of sympathizing with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and seeking to legitimize his regime.
Liberal MP Judy Sgro, who had originally agreed to participate in the event, had previously withdrawn over concerns about Cox’s presence and sent a letter to Genuis and Block earlier this week. “It has come to my attention that Ms. Cox is a supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and that she has promoted anti-Islamic rhetoric that is harmful to democracies around the world,” she wrote.
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On Thursday, Liberal MP Omar Alghabra issued a statement criticizing Genuis and Block for moving ahead with the reception despite Sgro’s concerns. “I support freedom of speech within its legal boundaries, but if MPs choose to elevate such outrageous discourse, they need to answer for it,” he said.
Genuis initially defended Cox, telling CTV News in an email earlier this week that while he disagreed with Cox’s position on Syria, “she has been involved in many different human rights causes around the world, and the focus of this event is …read more