Straight Talk
JOE WARMINGTON - No reason to arrest Brazau for bad taste and lack of class

Eric Brazau holds his copy of A Gift For the Muslim Couple in the front lobby of the Toronto Sun.

Credits: TERRY DAVIDSON/QMI AGENCY

JOE WARMINGTON | QMI AGENCY

TORONTO - There may be only one guy in this city who would be crass enough to dress up like an imam and take part in the mock beating of his pretend Muslim wife.

The same guy who protested a cop funeral with a placard reading, "No Police State."

You guessed it: Eric Brazau.

Both times landed him in custody.

Some people just have no class.

But should that mean their right to legally protest be revoked?

And does it matter how insulting somebody is as long as they are on public property and not physically hurting or threatening anybody?

There seems to be differing views.

During the G20 Summit, there didn't seem to be any law enforcement tolerance for free speech or freedom of assembly.

And Wednesday there was frowning over a strange demonstration outside Liberal headquarters, protesting Ontario Minister of Labour Yasir Naqvi's "endorsement" of an Islamic book which recommends hitting one's wife as a tool for solving family problems.

Fellow protester Ron Banerjee told Toronto Sun reporter Shawn Jeffords Brazau dressed up as an Imam and pretended to "beat" his wife who was dressed in a niqab.

Banerjee described protesters waving around signs that read the following:

"Beat wife only for honour & discipline, Holy Koran 4:34" and "Those that deny Islam will be killed, Holy Koran 33:16" and "Expose jihad with free speech or die."

Banerjee added Brazau "gave a mock Muslim sermon, assisted by the veiled woman. He was praising Canada as a place where you can beat your wife with impunity. He also counted all the benefits you would get here if you are a religious fanatic."

There was some laughter. But not everyone was amused.

"Today, at a protest, somebody was arrested for mocking Islam," said a witness.

Brazau was charged with breaching previous court conditions, uttering threats and assault with a weapon.

His bail hearing is set for Friday and neither side has yet had an opportunity to explain it's case to a judge.

"It was a satirical performance," Banerjee said about what he witnessed and what he also captured on a video that is now in the hands of police.

Brazau, who even had me subpoenaed to his civil action for his arrest at Sgt. Ryan Russell's funeral, is a pain in the butt.

Big time.

But is he really worth all of this attention for pushing the state to react?

Would ignoring him and trying to crack Toronto's 100 unsolved murders be a better use of resources?

Different people have varying views.

In general, a person is free to act like an idiot as long as they are on public property and are not breaking hate laws or those laid out in the criminal code.

"In Canada, our Constitution protects the right to express ourselves and to peacefully assemble," said Cara Faith Zwibel, director of the Fundamental Freedoms Program at the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"In a democracy, we should be prepared to tolerate some inconvenience and disruption in order to give robust protection to the freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly, and recognize the need to express ourselves to bring important issues to light and to seek accountability."

Perhaps the most important thing, she said, was "all of Canada is a ‘free-speech zone' and any limits being placed on freedom of expression need to be justified by those who seek to impose them."

Perhaps this video will help the state decide if a guy who would protest a cop funeral has broken the law by now expressing his disdain of radical religious practices.

Or is he merely a guy who is free to say things offensive no matter how much it offends?

 

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