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Andrew Chung, Quebec Bureau, thestar.com
March 16, 2011
MONTREAL—A McGill University student is under investigation by police after he allegedly made death threats using his Twitter account.
The student, Haaris Khan, was watching a documentary screened by the Conservative Party’s campus arm, Conservative McGill, when he appeared to become increasingly agitated and expressed himself on Twitter using his BlackBerry.
“I’ve infiltrated a Zionist meeting. I feel like I’m at a Satanist ritual,” he allegedly wrote at the March 8th screening.
“I want to shoot everyone in this room,” another tweet said. “Never been this angry.”
The tweets call the documentary a “Zionist/Conservative propaganda film” and the gathering, which attracted about 20 students, “a secret Zionist convention.”
Then: “I should have brought an M16.”
A spokesperson for the Montreal Police Service said the force is still investigating. It’s not clear what charges could be laid, if any. “We take the case very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “We don’t go with half-measures on this.”
Montreal has had several school-related shootings, most recently in 2006 at Dawson College.
McGill University refers all matters involving alarming behaviour to a threat assessment team and a disciplinary officer, said Morton Mendelson, deputy provost of student life and learning.
“We have come to the conclusion that the messages don’t constitute a threat to the community,” Mendelson said.
The university will release a public response to the incident Thursday. In it, Mendelson will talk about the use of social media like Twitter.
“It highlights the downside of social media,” he said, and “the ability of a single person who happens to be in a room somewhere to disseminate inappropriate, threatening messages to the world at large, and there are consequences to that.”
He continued: “We really have to be responsible in how we’re using the Internet and social media.”
The film, Indoctrinate U, explores liberal bias and political correctness on American campuses. It has been acclaimed by such conservative commentators as Lou Dobbs.
Members of the campus club didn’t find out about the tweets until two days after the screening. They promptly called campus security.
Association board member Alexandre Meterissian said he’s disappointed with McGill’s response. “The university hasn’t taken it seriously,” the second-year political science student said.
Meterissian said Khan continued tweeting the following day, writing: “The jihad begins today.”
Khan’s Twitter feed, which overlays pictures of superhero Captain Canuck, has since been reset to private. Khan could not be reached for comment.
However, in an interview Monday with the McGill Tribune, a student newspaper that first reported the story, Khan apologized and said his tweets had been taken out of context.
“Whatever comes into my mind, I say it on Twitter,” the development studies and software engineering student said. “It’s kind of my outlet.”
He professed not to own any weapons and said he has never fired a gun. He also said he’s not particularly religious and that his sister-in-law is Jewish.
“I don’t have a problem with Jews,” he added.