Pages: 1 2
The Muslim proscription against “unclean” animals received state-enforced validation last Saturday in Toronto at the annual Al-Quds Day rally held in the city’s Queen’s Park. 47-year-old Allan Einstoss, who was accosted by a Muslim demonstrator while walking among the crowd with his dog, is considering legal action after being held by the police after the assault, while the man who attacked him was not even questioned. Police on the scene reportedly chastised Einstoss for being “insensitive” to the Muslim protestors with the presence of his canine companion in the public park. “I was detained. They had me in handcuffs,” Einstoss told Front Page Magazine. “They trampled all over my rights.”
Al-Quds Day is an annual international event created in 1979 by Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini to mark the end of Ramadan. It is anti-Semitic in nature, calling for the destruction of Israel and the creation a Palestinian state. Einstoss, who attended the event with his 77-year-old father and 16-year-old son, also brought along Cupcake, his 165 pound English Mastiff. Cupcake is a registered therapy dog slated to begin visiting veteran patients at Sunnybrook hospital this October. At the rally he was on a leash, and wearing an Israeli flag around his neck.
Einstoss said he was attending the rally as a “concerned citizen,” unaffiliated with any group. He was amongst the crowd when two Muslim women approached him to ask about his dog. According to Einstoss, he was then approached by a male Al-Quds demonstrator who told him he was “not allowed to go near our women.” Einstoss then asserted his right to go anywhere he pleased, but turned to walk away. At that point he said he was “punched in the chest” by a second male demonstrator, and that someone also kicked his dog.
Einstoss responded by shoving the man who punched him. He was immediately grabbed by several police officers and put in handcuffs. “The cops jumped me, and dragged me off in front of my 77-year-old father and 16-year-old son. They cuffed me for half an hour, and patted me down,” said Einstoss. “The two cops told me I was being arrested for assault and inciting a riot. One of them also mentioned that I was being insensitive to others. They threatened me with a weekend jail, before offering me a deal: they would free me if I agreed to be escorted out of the park.” He complied and left the area.
Part of Einstoss’s apparent “insensitivity” was that, in the eyes of the police, he should have known better than to bring his dog to a rally predominantly comprised of Muslims, whose dislike of dogs among the devout is widely known. By detaining him and threatening him at least partially on the pretext of this “offense,” while refusing to punish the real aggressor in the altercation, the police were essentially telling Einstoss that when Muslims gather in sufficient numbers, public laws and individual rights play second string.
Einstoss was not the only victim of what is being characterized as “overzealousness” on the part of the police by Noa Mendelsohn Aviv of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, who added that there may have been a “problematic” double-standard employed by the police at the rally. A video has surfaced of another Jewish protester who rode up to the rally on a bicycle carrying a large Israeli flag. The cyclist alleges police told him to move further away from the demonstration, and subsequently ordered him to put away his flag–or face the same charge of inciting a riot with which Einstoss was threatened. Yet several other videos of the demonstration show Al-Quds demonstrators carrying and waving Palestinian flags without any interference by police.
“It appears, based on these incidents, that the police were being overzealous in their reactions to counter protesters,” said Aviv. “Toronto Police need to exercise their authority to protect both the rights of protestors and of counter protesters, who also have a right to express their opinions and to use public space for this purpose,” he added.
Toronto Police Const. Victor Kwong saw it differently. He claimed the officers had a “very pleasant exchange” with the flag-waving cyclist, and they only advised him to not ride his bike on the sidewalk, as well as recommending that he not try to “lead the Al Quds march on his bike with the flag.” As for Einstoss, Kwong contended that police “took notice of him because they did see an extremely large dog with an Israeli flag around its neck.”
Pages: 1 2