"OTTAWA - Hundreds of screaming students succeeded in what few thought possible Tuesday night - they silenced incendiary right-winger Ann Coulter.
Organizers for the American's tour of Canada scrubbed her much-anticipated speech at the University of Ottawa when students crowded the entrance before her arrival. A spokesman for the organizers said about 2,000 "threatening" students posed a security threat to the darling of the American right, and she was advised against appearing.
"It would be physically dangerous for Ann Coulter to proceed with this event," said conservative political activist Ezra Levant inside Marion Hall.
"This is an embarrassing day for the University of Ottawa and their student body . . . who chose to silence her through threats and intimidation."
The announcement was greeted with shouts of "Shame" and "We want Ann" from about 100 people who had managed to get into the hall.
Outside students celebrated: "Nananana, nanana, Goodbye Ann Coulter."
About 10 Ottawa police cruisers were called to the scene, but there was no violence.
Coulter expressed her outrage at the unfolding of events in Ottawa in interviews with the U.S. media.
"This has never happened before," she told The Washington Times Tuesday night.
"I go to the best schools, Harvard, the Ivy League and those kids are too intellectually proud to threaten speakers."
Calling the University of Ottawa a "bush league" institution, Coulter said "their IQ points-to-teeth ratio must be about 1-to-1."
There were early signs the evening would not go smoothly.
A crush of bodies greeted organizers about 90 minutes before Coulter's 8:15 p.m. speaking time as about 1,000 showed up for the 400-seat hall.
At about 7:30 a fire alarm was triggered.
Then hundreds of protesters arrived, mostly students carrying signs and chanting. There was no accurate head account, but one student said the protesters accounted for about several hundred while one event organizer estimated 2,000.
"Ann Coulter should go back to where she came from because we don't want her back here," shouted Ellen Ocran, a University of Ottawa student in a shouting match with a Coulter backer.
A protest organizer, international studies student Mike Fancie, said he was happy they were able to stop Coulter from speaking.
"What Ann Coulter is practising is not free speech, it's hate speech," he said. "She's targeted the Jews, she's targeted the Muslims, she's targeted Canadians, homosexuals, women, almost everybody you could imagine."
Levant blamed the bedlam on university academic vice-president Francois Houle, who had written Coulter to warn her that Canadian laws make provisions for hate speech.
"Promoting hatred against any identifiable group would not only be considered inappropriate, but could in fact lead to criminal charges," he warned her in the letter, which Coulter quickly leaked to the media.
The university has refused to comment since, but Levant said Houle's not-too-subtle advice to Coulter emboldened students to block her appearance.
Coulter was in the middle of a three-city tour of Canada which began at the University of Western Ontario in London on Monday, and ends in Calgary on Thursday.
The event in London went without incident, but not without controversy.
When answering questions from students, Coulter told a 17-year-old Muslim student to "take a camel" instead of a the flying carpet she has previously suggested Muslims use for transportation.
And earlier on Tuesday, she protested, with a bemused smile, that she was the real victim.
"I've been a victim of a hate crime," she said in a CTV interview of Houle's letter. "I think he's accusing me of criminal proclivities."
If publicity was the goal of Coulter's Canadian tour, the trip has already been a smashing success.
She even got a mention in the House of Commons, with New Democrat MP Olivia Chow accusing the government of hypocrisy in allowing her into the country, after having given the boot to an ideological opposite.
Chow said the decision last year to bar British MP George Galloway, who has expressed pro-Palestinian views, shows the Conservatives have a double-standard on freedom of speech.
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney defended keeping Galloway out of the country by noting his financial help to a terrorist group, Hamas.
"Hogwash," responded Chow.
"George Galloway has no criminal record. He can travel the United States, all over the world. What the minister is doing ... people he agrees with, fine come; people he doesn't agree with, you can't come."
Levant said the protest proves another point, that was the reason for the tour in the first place.
"The point of the tour was to demonstrate that the state of freedom of speech in Canada is in jeopardy, especially on university campuses," he said.
Coulter is a best-selling author and syndicated columnist who has been called one of the leaders of the angry right wing in the United States, along with talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. She embraces the outrage she triggers although she has often dismissed the ensuing controversy by suggesting she was trying to be humorous.
Her "camel" comment on Monday was obviously a joke, she said on CTV.
She has said worse things, including "not all Muslims may be terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims," and that Canadians ought to be grateful the U.S. didn't roll over them. That was after former prime minister Jean Chretien refused to follow George W. Bush into the war in Iraq.
Coulter told CTV she made the remark when "the French-speaking influence was a little bit more dominant in Canada."
Asked to comment on the Harper Conservatives, Coulter said she didn't pay much attention to Canadian politics, but judged they were not her cup of tea.
"If they support same-sex marriage and socialized medicine, no they are not conservative enough," she said.
And she summed up the harsh reaction to her with another smile.
"I am dangerous," she said."