Double standard:Islamophobia

Toronto – A tale of two cities

What a difference a decade can make


Islamophobia seems to be everywhere these days – or at least accusations of it. What does it mean?

Too often it leads to silencing people who have questions about Islam and its teachings.  I don’t know of any laws preventing people from criticizing or questioning Christianity or Judaism – in Judaism it seems that what is said is based on context! (Prof. Gray when asked whether pro-Palestinian student activists calling for “Jewish genocide” violated Harvard’s code of conduct on harassment she claimed it would depend on the context.)

In 2015, Eric Brazau, not particularly fond of Islam, decided to run an experiment  on free speech on a Toronto Subway. He, another fellow in Israeli colours and carrying an Israeli flag, and another acquaintance who videoed the proceedings, got on the subway where Mr. Brazau began loudly denouncing Islam and its holy book, the Koran. He did this around the time Israel was at war(always and forever) with Gaza. Seems a passenger was so offended he pulled the emergency cord. The subway was stopped at the next station and police brought in. Mr. Brazau was charged for his actions on the subway. He was denied bail before his trial and was held in custody from his arrest that day, July 29, for five months and nine days.

Ontario Court Judge, Gerald Lapkin, slapped him with breach of the peace (for interfering with Toronto Transit Commission service – the subway was delayed 30 minutes), and causing a disturbance ( using insulting language). A female passenger had testified she had felt intimidated, though not in danger. She had shared her views, too. Judge Lapkin was not impressed. He snapped, “Language can be a weapon, too.

Now, this was not Brazau’s first interaction with the court over his views on Islam. After Hillary Clinton’s apology in 2012 for the film that “caused” the riots that started in Benghazi,  Brazau had distributed fliers at Dundas Square in Toronto, and on the Ryerson Campus, now called the Toronto Metropolitan University. He was heard shouting:

“I do this in support of free speech & artistic expression. This is my expression.”


What is Koran 9.5?

But once the Sacred Months have passed, kill the polytheists wherever you find them, capture them, besiege them, and lie in wait for them on every way. But if they repent, perform prayers, and pay alms-tax, then set them free. Indeed, Allah is All-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

For all of Brazau’s actions, Judge Lapkin gave him 20 months; 5 for mischief, 5 for causing a disturbance and 10 for breach of the probation.  As well as a jail sentence, Brazau was given two years on probation.

“You had a ticket to ride. Not a pass to harass”

Ironically, Mr. Brazau said that as his “social experiment” on the subway began that day, “me and this other gentleman were having a conversation about whether we could [even] have the conversation.” And they discovered that they could not.

What a difference a decade can make.

Today, in 2024, there seems to be a double standard in Toronto. Although Brazau was charged because language can be a weapon, those calling for the extermination of Israel and the Jews are allowed to speak whatever they want and protest anywhere – without fear. The October, 2023 barbaric massacre of Jews in Israel by Muslims from Gaza led to full-throated Muslim protests.

At York University in Toronto, student unions shared a statement; less than a week after Hamas fighters stormed into Israeli communities in a brutal rampage that killed an estimated 1,200 people, including children. They called the Oct. 7 attack “a strong act of resistance” by the Palestinian people, while affirming their right to “self-determination and liberation.”

So, rape and burning people alive and decapitating babies is now resistance. Free speech? Not: “Language can be a weapon, too.”

Guess it depends on context.

At Toronto Metropolitan University, a group of law students posted a letter praising “all forms of Palestinian resistance,” following Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack, which also saw the militant group drag back an estimated 240 hostages into Gaza.

The director of the centre for free expression at TMU, James Turk, commenting only on the tensions at York University, said that “when it comes to free speech, you have a right to say what you want as long as it’s not contrary to the law.” Hmmm. What happened to “Language can be a weapon, too”?

Toronto4Palestine, a full-throated supporter of the Oct. 7 attacks, was one of many groups behind blockades. The group handed out candy and coordinated celebratory rallies only hours after the first reports of civilian massacres emerged from Israel.

Hmm. This is OK. This is free speech? “Not a breach of the peace”? Or “Language can be a weapon, too”?

There were protests in Toronto Malls against Israel that also interfered with Christmas!


Muslim protesters were using megaphones to share their views in Yorkdale Mall, a major mall in Toronto.

Here is an eye witness account.

A couple had come to the Mall with their  8 year old daughter.

“Imagine 50 people screaming at you, all at once, some with megaphones. All because you continued doing what people come to the mall to do, walk and patronize the mall. It was scary.” The protesters could be heard  shouting “genocide supporters” and telling the couple they are “disgusting.”

“Nobody was confronting them,” said Brown. “Nobody was yelling back. Nobody was walking through. Everyone was just standing, hundreds of people standing around, including the cops and the security.” In fact, protesters were threatening police. “I’ll put him on the ground. You come near I’ll put you lay down on the floor (sic) … I’ll put you six feet deep.” The camera then swings to take in the police, who look at one another as the man moves on.


How is this different from Brazau’s behaviour? Other than magnified many times over?

What happened to “Breach of the peace”? “Language can be a weapon, too”?

Muslims blocked traffic while praying  at Bay and Wellington: the heart of the business district.

What happened to “Breach of the Peace”?

Thousands were protesting. They blocked roads in Toronto’s Jewish communities: Men clad in keffiyehs led Muslim prayer services right in the middle of roads approaching the bridge. The demonstrators, blockading the roads, waved Palestinian flags and one called the neighborhood a “Zionist-infested area”

At one protest the police provided coffee for the protesters!

The protester who received the coffee said that somebody had bought the coffee for them, but were unable to bring it to the bridge protesters as police were restricting access.

What happened to “Breach of the Peace”? “Language can be a weapon, too”?

“The police are becoming our little messengers,” said the grinning man wearing black jacket and keffiyeh.

February 4, 2024, Pro Hamas supporters blocked traffic in downtown Toronto (without a permit) and called for dismantling all Jewish/Zionist Organizations and  the destruction of Israel.“Palestine will be free form the River to the Sea.”

“Breach of the Peace”? “Language can be a weapon, too”?

These are people blockading streets and intersections to the disadvantage of people trying to make their way “to and fro.” Compare their treatment – nothing – with the man who spoke loudly on a subway.

The subway was stopped to remove him.

There was one police action related to the Avenue Road blockades.  A 58-year-old woman carrying an Israeli flag who was reportedly caught on camera making a throat-slitting gesture was arrested and charged with “Uttering Threats/Death or Bodily Harm.” What happened to those calling a Jewish community a Zionist-infested area? Seems that is “Okay” and  Muslim protesters are let go.

What happened to breach of the peace? The weaponizing of language?

Double standard:Islamophobia: Toronto – A tale of two cities

What a difference a decade can make

From the Ethics of the Fathers: “Rabbi Tarfon used to say, it is not incumbent upon you to complete the task, but you are not exempt from undertaking it.”