News / Ottawa

Filmmaker behind 'Killing Europe' criticizes cancellation

Metro spoke with Michael Hansen, the director of Killing Europe, who believes that the library cancelling the screening of his film was an attack on free speech

A screenshot from the film 'Killing Europe,' which the Ottawa Public Library is allowing a screening of on Saturday.

A screenshot from the film 'Killing Europe,' which the Ottawa Public Library is allowing a screening of on Saturday.

The Ottawa Public Library cancelled a scheduled screening of an anti-Islamic film on Saturday after criticism the film violated the library’s community standards. 

ACT! for Canada, a right-wing organization that considers itself a defender “against the rise of Islamism,” had scheduled the premiere of Danish filmmaker Michael Hansen’s documentary “Killing Europe,” a film about the impact of "Islamic migration" on European society and, said Hansen, the threat to free speech from left-wing organizations. 

On Thursday, library officials still planned on hosting the screening on Saturday, despite mounting criticism. But by Friday afternoon, they had decided to cancel it altogether.  

“We took a closer look at the material, and reviewed our policy, and decided it’s the type of material we don’t want displayed on our property,” said Tim Westenbroek, manager of the OPL’s main branch downtown. 

“By de-platforming the world premiere of ‘Killing Europe,’ the City of Ottawa and the Ottawa Public LIbrary are permitting the perpetuation of these abuses are permitting themselves to be tools of institutionalized oppression,” said Alexandra Belaire from ACT! for Canada, in a statement.

Neither Belaire nor a representative for ACT! for Canada could not be reached for comment on Sunday. 

Hansen said on Sunday that he felt the backlash was unwarranted since few people had actually watched the film, and that cancelling the screening was both “Orwellian” and tantamount to censorship. 

“My biggest problem is that my film got basically banned there, without anyone having watched it,” he said. “If you don’t allow open debate, eventually you are going to see real hate speech, you’re going to see real Nazis.

"It's ironic—a movie that's about free speech gets shut down," he said.

Hansen extended an offer to Ottawa Against Fascism, saying he would “gladly do a screening with them,” if they were open to it. 

“If they will have me, I will do a screening with them, and then we can have a discussion,” he said. 

Vincent Cama, a member of the Industrial Workers of the World, said that “despite the positive outcome in this instance [...] we’d like to know how much of this decision was based on the pressure exerted by the board. [...] We continue to have concerns that management at the OPL did not undergo proper due diligence in this matter.” 

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