Islamist conference cancelled in Montreal

Nader Abou Anas

MONTREAL, Quebec - A Muslim youth conference criticised by the Quebec government was cancelled Saturday by the Montreal convention centre where it had been set to take place.

The Palais des Congres said it cancelled the "Entre Ciel et Terre" (Between Heaven and Earth) conference after a "security review." It had been set to take place September 7-8.

Demonstrations had been planned against the event, and especially invited speaker Nader Abou Anas, a French preacher who has said that a woman refusing to wear the veil was worse than having cancer.

Quebec's Minister for the Status of Women Agnes Maltais had called on the Canadian federal government to bar some of the invitees from entering the country, denouncing their comments as sexist.

Canadian Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Steven Blaney had said that several federal government ministries were concerned about the conference, especially in light of a national debate on religious equality and liberty.

The Quebec government is seeking to ban the wearing of religious symbols for public service workers, a common practice across Canada.

The conference organizers said they "deplore the campaign of demonization by some media outlets," adding that it had "never encouraged hatred or violence toward women."