A controversial British lawyer spoke in Ottawa despite protest from groups who oppose his opinion, which is that mosques should not be built in non-Muslim areas.

Gavin Boby spoke in front of 40 people at the main branch of the Ottawa Public Library Monday evening as protesters stood outside the branch at the corner of Metcalfe Street and Laurier Avenue West.

Boby, who is also an activist, is known for using zoning regulations to try to stop mosques from opening in areas he considers "non-Muslim."

He told the CBC's Simon Gardner before the speech he does not want views of Islam to dictate certain neighbourhoods.

"Increasingly what we are seeing now is self-declared Muslim areas where you get Muslim patrols saying you can't walk a dog, wear a skirt," he said.

A group that claimed it strives to "stop Muslims from taking over neighbourhoods" organized Boby’s speech. The Ottawa police hate crimes unit also monitored the talk.

Speech only stopped if laws are broken

Ihsaan Gardee, executive director with the Canadian Council on American-Islamic relation, said the library should have cancelled the visit.

But the library said it only rented the auditorium out to the group and it forced the group organizing Boby's speech to sign an agreement not to violate criminal or human rights laws.

Police were consulted on the issue as well, and encouraged groups to book the room for a speech on an opposing viewpoint.

But some groups were unhappy with the decision to let Boby speak.

"By affording someone like this who has this kind of message, a publicly-funded taxpayer venue, it adds and gives a credibility to their message, which I don't think is something that should be considered lightly," Gardee said.

Library board chairwoman Jan Harder said she received hundreds of emails demanding she shut the event down, but she echoed the library's sentiment it can only be stopped if a law is broken. She said it was important to preserve freedom of speech.