York University students squared off yesterday outside a campus gymnasium, chanting, singing and bellowing into bullhorns in the name of freedom of speech. They were either for or against Middle East specialist and guest speaker Daniel Pipes, whose website Campus Watch and views on militant Islam led two university centres to cancel speaking dates last week.Stepping through a gauntlet of police and security guards into the Tait McKenzie gym, where basketball nets were yanked up and the grandstand yanked down in a last-minute change of venue, Pipes denounced his opponents as barbarians. "The source of this kind of hostility against freedom of speech invariably comes from three forces: not the right but the left; not the Christian right but the Islamists; not the pro-Israel activists but the pro-Palestinian activists," Pipes told the crowd of more than 300, divided between those who applauded him loudly and handed out flyers stating "No More Concordia!" and those who had taped their mouths shut in protest. "These are barbarians who would close down civilized discussion." The director of the Philadelphia-based Middle East Forum also took aim at York's Centre for International and Security Studies, which originally co-sponsored his lecture but pulled its support over Campus Watch, a website that spotlights academics Pipes considers anti-American and anti-Israel. "This sort of behaviour would usually be categorized as political correctness, but I think a better word would be intolerance," Pipes said, adding it is exactly this type of "extremism" his website is trying to highlight. "These are important institutions. It is time to take these institutions back." Although he spent much of his 30-minute speech talking about "Barriers to Speech," Pipes was invited to York by the university's Jewish Federation of Students to give a lecture on Israel entitled "Barriers to Peace." Last week, the student-run centre where the lecture was booked cancelled, citing concerns over safety and some of Pipes' views on Muslims. The Centre for International and Security Studies, which had booked a public luncheon with Pipes, also pulled out. "Campus Watch was seen by many as an effort to silence competing voices. We don't like the idea of intimidation of any kind," Centre director David Dewitt explained last week. In the end, the university administration reserved the gym and, together with the Canadian Jewish Congress, hired extra security to surround the building — some on horses — and monitor people in the stands. Two police officers stood sentinel at the gym entrance, scanning bags and checking entrants with metal detectors. Pipes, who was barred from two American universities last year, said it was the most security he has ever received. More than 100 protesters clogged the entrance, with supporters waving Israeli flags and his detractors holding up Palestinian flags and placards that read "End Racism and War." "We can't allow racism to transcend our freedom of speech," said Mostafa Henaway, a rally organizer and international development studies student who came to highlight Pipes' views on Muslims. "Mr. Pipes runs a research organization. He has no power to shut down anyone or silence anyone," countered protester Arieh Rosenblum, a director with B'Nai Brith Canada. Shouting matches between the groups were quelled and the protest remained peaceful. Last September, protesters at Montreal's Concordia University damaged property and clashed with police over a scheduled speech by former Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. At York yesterday, Pipes delivered his theory on trouble in Israel: "The key barrier to peace is the ongoing Arab rejection of Israel. Only when the Arab acceptance of Israel is no longer in debate can there be a resolution. We need to work on a change of heart on the Arab side. That is what is needed."