Even without the controversial Florida Pastor Terry Jones, the free speech event at Queen's Park in Toronto went on and the debates unfolded between those denouncing Islam and those defending the Islamic religion.
It was confirmed Thursday afternoon that the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) barred Jones from entering Canada. One of the reasons was Jones was fined in Germany for using his doctorate in theology to identify himself as “Dr.” Pastor Terry Jones. The other reason was he broke a peace bond in Dearborn, Michigan in 2010.
He was also thoroughly searched for the film “Innocence of Muslims” and was asked on several occasions if he had the movie. Allan Einstoss, Love of Charter organizer of the free speech event, noted that the film is not “outlawed” in Canada and went onto criticize the border officials for not allowing Jones in
Despite Jones’s absence, a small group of about 60 people still gathered around a podium where there were a number of speakers who delivered words that criticized Islam, religion, Christianity and Jones himself.
Love of Charter organizer Allan Einstoss speaking outside of Queen's Park for Freedom of Speech event.
There were about a dozen or so police officers stationed at the entrance of the Ontario Legislature. The purpose was to watch over the event, but it was superfluous since the hour-long event was peaceful and no heckling was involved.
Einstoss delivered an opening speech in which he justified free speech and explained that there is a small segment of society that wishes to reinstate blasphemy laws in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which he notes is a “crucial democratic freedom.”
He stated that there is a difference between hate speech and free speech: one may offend.
“Certainly people can have a rigorous debate as to whether one should offend but there is no debate as to whether one is allowed to offend. It’s a moot point,” said Einstoss. He added that the Canadian and U.S. flags are burned in Canada, Christian symbols are defaced, the Pope and Priests are called child rapists and mass murderers and all religions are mocked in universities and left-of-centre organizations.
“Indeed many of these are shockingly subsidized by our tax dollars. And although many find all of this offensive, it is protected under the Charter. And so I’m all for it.”
Dr. Masud Ansair, author of "Psychology of Mohammed," speaks at Queen's Park for the Freedom of Speech event.
Dr. Masud Ansair, the author of "Psychology of Mohammed," was in attendance Thursday and started his speech by talking about how the Charter of Rights and Freedoms was introduced and it changed the world, but it is under threat by a faction of religious individuals that is trying to connect politics and religion.
Ansair referred to a sign behind him that stated “Peace on Earth,” which reminded him of verse 35 of chapter 37 in the Koran that says, according to the author, “Muslims should never make peace with anybody or entering into negotiations for peace.”
He added that if a reader goes through the Koran he or she will notice a lot of verses that state “try to kill those who don’t follow your religious creeds.”
“It is so interesting and believable that the verse 61 of chapter 33 of Koran says that ‘kill non-Muslims, but kill them very cruelly and mercilessly,’” stated Ansair. “We cannot live in the world that a lot of groups of bigoted religionists that are saying other religious denominations that either you have to follow our superstitious belief system or we will kill you. This is all what is happening with fundamental Muslims in the world.”
Ron Banerjee, director of Canadian Hindu Advocacy, delivering a 10-minute speech in front of the Ontario Legislature for the Freedom of Speech event.
Ron Banerjee of the Canadian Hindu Advocacy claimed freedom perished and democracy was defiled in Canada because “the great pastor” was turned back at the border and was forbidden from entering Canada.
“Real religions can tolerate descent, real religions can tolerate criticism,” said Banerjee.
Banerjee said even though these real religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism and others, are mocked openly in the media and entertainment industry they “do not riot, do not kill, [and] do not go on savage barbaric rampages.”
“There is, however, one belief system where there is quite common that any sort of description of this belief, which contradicts their ideology, their values and their principles results in violence, savagery, barbarity, cruelty throughout the world,” explained Banerjee. “The question is we have to ask ourselves is: why? Why do all the other religions of the world behave in a more or less civilized manner and react to criticism in one particular way and why is it that one particular belief system reacts differently?"
Imam Steve Rockwell of the Sheikh Deedat mosque delivering a 10-minute speech in front of the Ontario Legislature for the Freedom of Speech event.
Imam Steve Rockwell of the Sheikh Deedat mosque was slated to appear, but Einstoss noted at the beginning that he cancelled at the last minute, which he then called him a “coward.”
Einstoss cited that one of the explanations was that Mubin Shaikh, a former Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) RCMP human source, who was responsible for bringing down the Toronto 18, a group that wanted to blow things up in Toronto and cut off the prime minister’s head, was scheduled to speak.
Rockwell later paid a visit and criticized Jones and his act of burning the Koran. Due to Jones’s absence, Rockwell later offered that he would head down to Florida and debate Jones one-on-one. He concurred with the border agency’s decision to not allow Rockwell into the country.
“He got not only 14 minutes of fame, he got 14 years of fame,” said Rockwell. “He set a precedent. I’ll tell you something, such hatred should not go unchallenged. That’s why I’m here.”