This is a guest post by BeaverMoose:
Attendance wasn’t bad at Toronto’s ‘Charlie Hebdo March’ that started at New City Hall at 2 pm on Sunday, January 11, 2015: there were slightly more than 2,000 people in the crowd, about ten percent of the Montreal march’s turnout of 25,000 held the same day.
A marcher explained to me, ‘That’s understandable that Montreal had more attendance. They read Charlie Hebdo and identify more with Paris than Toronto does.’
On short notice, 2,000 wasn’t bad for a march organized in Toronto concerned about free speech in France. I happened to see a notice about the march on TV and showed up to find about 2,000 people with king-sized, hand-made cardboard ‘pencils’, French, Iranian and Ukrainian flags, a hundred ‘je suis Charlie’ posters. Many held up home-written posters and slogans in different languages, Dutch, Danish, Iranian and English.
About fifty expat Iranians held large ‘je suis Charlie’ signs in written in French and Arabic script, along with free speech detainees persecuted in Iran. They described how no freedom of expression whatever is allowed in Islamic Iran.
A Dutchman wearing wooden shoes marched next to a Frenchman holding a hockey stick with a French flag on it.
A woman with a paint brush agreed that artists seem to understand the critical importance of free expression more than people in other lines of work. ‘As early as I remember,’ she admitted, ‘I was getting in trouble for drawing caricatures, usually of my teachers.’
Another person chimed in: ‘Artists have to maintain a ‘screw-you’ attitude – otherwise, they can’t be much of an artist.’
After speeches about freedom at Toronto’s New City Hall were finished, the crowd marched half a kilometre to Dundas Square, up Toronto’s main street, while chanting ‘Charlie…Charlie…’ and ‘liberté…d’expression’.
Muslims on the street averted their gaze, while a seller of ‘halal’ poutine looked on nervously while muttering prayers to seek refuge from those who were demanding free speech.
There was also a man who wore a sign on his hat that said, ‘I am a Muslim but I am human first.’
I walked up to him and smiled before asking his point of view. He said he doesn’t agree with terrorism. I asked him: ‘Do you think I am a kafir? ‘ (i.e. a troublesome disbeliever) ‘No, you must do something bad to be a kafir,’ he responded.
Were the Charlie Hebdo artists kafirs? ‘No, I do not think so,’ he said.
Did he disagree with Sharia law about blasphemy? ‘I do not think we should kill people who write something.’
‘But,’ I said, ‘If you do not follow Sharia law, you have left Islam…can you convince the mullahs at Al Azhar University that you are right and they are wrong?’ He replied, ‘No, I do not think I can do that.’ In other words, nice Muslims like this man, realize he cannot change Islamic law.
The Toronto ‘Charlie Hebdo’ march was attended by people who understand that freedom is not free.
Unfortunately, freedom isn’t secure once for all when there are Islamic terrorists who are trying so hard to take it away. I really thought that after the attack on our national Parliament Buildings, Toronto would have had more marchers. Canadians will need to see they are the ones who must pay for our freedom by getting out of their comfortable chairs and marching for it. Our battle is against those who claim their right not to be criticized is more important than our right to speak out against misogyny and supremacism.
This is my moment to speak to those who did not attend. Canadians, it’s YOUR freedom we marched for today. How important is freedom to you? What has to happen to us Canadians before we realize how precious our freedom is? Let’s not wait until something worse happens.
So let’s keep marching for freedom (more next time, please). The Islamic terrorists won’t stop their marching, their bombing and their shooting until they realize that we love freedom more than they love death!
They won’t stop until they realize their actions are completely futile. Rather than give in to them, we have to rally against them and tell our politicians ‘OUR FREEDOM IS NOT NEGOTIABLE!!!’