Mosque protest goes to the dogsBy Terry Davidson,Toronto SunTORONTO – A much anticipated dog walk protest outside an east-Toronto mosque Friday turned out to be a hopelessly neutered event.Around 20 demonstrators turned up outside the Salahuddin Islamic Centre for the Walk Your Dog in Front of a Mosque protest. It was organized in response to a Jewish man who was arrested at a recent Islamic demonstration following an altercation in which his dog was kicked by a demonstrator.Around 20 humans and three dogs – two retrievers and a pomeranian — turned up for the two and a half hour event and converged at the entrance of the mosque, located on Kennedy Rd. south of Eglinton Ave. E.
Some devout Muslims consider dogs to be unclean and avoid them.
“We wish we had a better turnout, but there were extenuating circumstances,” said organizer Ron Banerjee, citing traffic and rain for the poor attendance. The “events such as the kicking of dogs the poisoning of dogs in countries like Spain and England” on the part of staunch Muslims, he said, must be challenged.
One Catholic demonstrator turned up with his pomeranian.
“Being kind to animals and being tolerant of other people shouldn’t be limited to the West,” he said.
A group of Muslims belonging to the mosque — men dressed in long thobes and women in burkas – met the demonstrators.
Tabasum Hussain, a Muslim woman [and member of the Muslim Debate Initiative], called it pointless.
“I don’t really see the benefit or what it’s supposed to achieve, other than cause friction,” said Hussain, who claims to have had dogs as pets. “There is nothing in Islam to say that we should ill-treat dogs.”
Towards the end, one Muslim arrived with two friendly Siberian Huskies. All the while, both sides bickered about religious and cultural differences, at several points reverting to name calling.
The event also attracted its share of rabid anti-Islamists. Eric Brazau, a convicted felon once arrested for allegedly harassing a group of Muslim women, turned up to make “a stand.”
“If we look at what is happening around the world today … how is it that we can say that there is no problem with Islam?” he said, referring to recent attacks on U.S. embassies in countries such as Libya and Sudan.
Dr. Tabasum Hussain, right, a member of the mosque pets the head of Duncan Jaffray’s golden lab Chelsea. Jaffray was just walking by and became unwittingly part of the protest.(Jack Boland/Toronto Sun)