British parliamentarian George Galloway spoke to about 300 people at a Toronto church Monday night. But he had to do it via video link after a judge rejected an appeal of a Canadian immigration service decision to bar Galloway from entering the country.
Galloway spoke defiantly about his case, arguing it "spectacularly backfired" by generating media attention. It is important to note, however, that the decision was not about Galloway's speech, but rather his actions in support of Hamas. Canada considers Hamas a terrorist organization and has banned sending it money or other goods.
Canadian officials cited his trip to Gaza earlier this month in explaining why they would not allow Galloway to enter the country:
"Hamas is a listed terrorist organization in Canada. There are reasonable grounds to believe you have provided financial support for Hamas. Specifically, we have information that indicates you organized a convoy worth over one million British pounds in aid and vehicles, and personally donated vehicles and financing to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniya."
Galloway, who leads the Respect Party in England, said he was trying to give aid to Palestinian people and that "I am not a supporter of Hamas but I am a supporter of democracy." Some organizers of Galloway's Canadian speaking tour acknowledged the proceeds would help fund "Galloway's Gaza aid caravan."
Judge Luc Martineau's ruling largely was based on procedure, and not on whether Galloway had aided Hamas. Galloway could still be heard by Canadians using other modes of communication such as a web link, Martineau said. He also noted:
"The admission of a foreign national to this country is a privilege determined by statute, regulation or otherwise, and not a matter of right."
Read all of Martineau's ruling here.
On Sunday, Galloway spoke in person at a fundraiser in Falls Church, VA for the Muslim Link, a newspaper in the Washington, D.C.-Baltimore area. He was joined by Mahdi Bray, executive director the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation. Last week, the Investigative Project on Terrorism uncovered Bray's felony record from the 1980s and showed how his get-out-the-vote efforts may be tainted by his own questionable voter registration.