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.”
However, the Jewish Tribune reports there were two other incidents of heavy-handed police tactics aimed counter-demonstrators as well. High school teacher Stefan Santamaria was also threatened with arrest for inciting violence because he was wearing an Israel Defense Forces t-shirt and carrying an Israeli flag. He further alleged that police kept close tabs on him, and that one officer yelled at him, calling him a “s**t disturber.” Santamaria, who like Einstoss, claimed he was not part of any organized group, illuminated the reason he came to the demonstration. “More than just supporting Israel, I’m here because I’d like to oppose the message I hear from these people: it’s one of hate, it’s very un-Canadian and it’s very scary,” he said.
Just as scary is the second incident revealed by the Tribune. The paper notes that a video posted online “shows police stopping a Christian minister from speaking at Queen’s Park and physically removing him from the scene.” For perspective’s sake, there are no reports of any Muslims being removed from the rally, despite a plethora anti-Semitic diatribes.
Einstoss noted the ultimate irony of such a blatant double-standard. “Queen’s Park is the seat of the Ontario legislature and our war memorial,” he said, adding that the memorial is a symbol honoring the people who made the ultimate sacrifice “defending the rights taken away from me that day.”
While Einstoss remained steadfast in his belief that even anti-Semites are entitled to express their views, other Canadians disagree. “Canadians are upset that a major public space is going to be used by an organization about which they have no information,” said Frank Dimant, CEO, B’nai Brith Canada, five days prior to the event. “We have been given no assurances that due diligence was done and that this is not being run by a front group for Hezbollah or Hamas. The Al-Quds commemoration was a directive of the Iranian regime, so the possibility of a link exists. We want to know that Canada’s public places are not being misused by organizations that have no right being in this country.”
Environment Minister Peter Kent also expressed his displeasure, noting that videos of last year’s Al-Quds rally “document hate speech, racism, antisemitism [sic] and support for listed organizations that clearly exceed the limits of Canadian freedoms of free assembly and free speech.” Kent is accurate. Video of last year’s protest shows speakers describing Israel as “the Zionist parasitical state,” and a country with a “Zionist regime that sucks the resources, the blood and everything that belongs to the people…all across the world.”
Yet the Sergeant-at-Arms, the senior official of the Canadian House of Commons, contended that such footage was insufficient evidence to deny the Al-Quds organizers a permit. Thus, the demonstration ensued, with Toronto Police and Ontario Provincial Police separating Israeli supporters and members of the Jewish Defense League from Quds Day organizers and attendees, using their bicycles as barriers–and apparently threatening people only on the non-Muslim side of the divide who dared to express their free speech rights.
Einstoss told Front Page that if he does pursue legal action, it won’t be about money. He simply wants a public inquiry regarding his detainment. What seemed to concern him the most is an alleged exchange he had with the officers while he remained in custody. “Cops said to me they ‘know who I am,’ so if I attend another event, there’s history on me,” he contended.
Such a threat is unseemly. Furthermore, there’s a lot more history regarding the anti-Semitism, intolerance and outright violence practiced by Islamists and their supporters in Canada and other Western nations. And far too often, a blatant double-standard masquerading itself as “tolerance” allows for unfettered demonstrations of hate, even as those who oppose that hate are harassed for daring to exercise their opposition.
Canadian police practicing selective law enforcement is bad enough. Maintaining the peace while sacrificing democratic principles — which is nothing less than the essence of appeasement — goes right to the bottom of the barrel. Canadian police not only capitulated to the beliefs of a hateful mob, they aided and abetted the mob’s intolerant worldview. The not-so-subtle message is clear: Muslim mobs can demand–and receive–tolerance, but the Canadian police apparently believe that no one should be able to demand reciprocal levels of tolerance from them. Here’s hoping Einstoss pursues his day in court.
Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist.