Montreal

Djemila Benhabib not guilty of slander, Quebec Superior Court finds

A feminist, secular author did not slander a Montreal private Muslim school when she likened it to military training camps, a Quebec Superior court has found.

Comments made by a secular feminist about a Montreal private Islamic school ruled to be legal by Quebec judge

Djemila Benhabib says she doesn't regret likening the Muslim Schools of Montreal to militant Islamic training camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan. (Radio-Canada)

A feminist, secular author did not slander a Montreal private Muslim school when she likened it to military training camps, a Quebec Superior court has found.

Author and activist Djemila Benhabib told 98.5 radio host Benoît Dutrizac the Muslim Schools in Montreal "resembles the kind of indoctrination similar to what goes on in a military camp in Afghanistan or Pakistan."

In the same interview, she also said the school's religious teachings were a form of indoctrination that conveyed sexist values. She used the example of Quranic verses which made reference to the importance of young women remaining pure.

The school accused her of "greatly tarnishing" its reputation and sued her for $95,000. It was represented by human rights lawyer Julius Grey, who argued that comparing a local school to terrorism was a dangerous tactic.

Shortly before her trial began in September, Benhabib showed little remorse.

"I regret nothing," she said in a separate radio interview.

No intent to harm 

In her decision, Justice Carole Hallée noted Benhabib did not say "terrorist" when talking about the military camps, and wrote she did nothing wrong by accepting to do a radio interview on a subject she's passionate about.

Hallée also found there was no intent to harm the reputation of the school.

"We were very pleased with the decision," said Benhabib's lawyer, Marc-André Nadon. "She definitely feels that justice has been served."

With files from the Canadian Press