About two dozen students held a peaceful protest in front of a McGill University lecture hall last night to denounce a speech by a controversial pro-Israeli journalist.
Daniel Pipes, a columnist for the New York Post and an outspoken critic of "militant Islam," spoke at the school as part of a two-day event called 24 Hours for Israel.
The event was organized by the Jewish Student Centre and McGill Hillel, among other groups.
"Pipes considers the existence of Muslims in North America a danger to Israel. That's an extremely racist idea," said Isam Faik, president of the Muslim Students Association of McGill.
Faik and others handed out pamphlets to those entering the building last night, but did not block anyone from attending the 7 p.m. lecture.
The protesters themselves were barred from entering the building by campus security.
"We chose not to argue with them," Fail said, calling the protest a "peaceful action."
"But we shouldn't have been stopped from standing inside a building on our own campus.
"We're not against freedom of speech. It's just that the kind of ideas Pipes will be delivering tonight infringes on the freedom of others," Faik said.
Earlier this year, Pipes was prevented from delivering a speech at Ontario's York University under pressure from student groups. He later spoke at an alternative venue on campus.
"I've had variable receptions at universities in Canada," Pipes said last night.
Concordia Hillel co-president Noah Joseph, who helped organize yesterday's speech, said the protesters had "every right to be there" and did not cause any trouble.
"They even had the courtesy to tell us when they would arrive," Joseph said, adding that similar events at Concordia University were often marred by violence.
"You have to worry about your safety at Concordia. The McGill atmosphere, on both sides, is much safer," he said.
Last September, a violent protest by pro-Palestinian students kept former Israeli prime minster Benjamin Netanyahu from speaking at Concordia.
Inside, Pipes told a crowd of several hundred of the ongoing "Palestinian dream" of destroying Israel, a goal their leaders have pursued since the late 1940s, he said.
"The Palestinians have never accepted Israel," Pipes said, adding that the region has been caught in a state of war as a result.
He said the Sharon government's current policy is aimed at showing the Palestinians that violence isn't working.