A Toronto man convicted of wilfully spreading hate against Muslims says he's willing to go back to jail.
Eric Brazau, 50, spent the weekend at the corner of Yonge & Dundas asking passers-by to draw their rendition of Islam's Prophet Mohammed.
Dressed as an Imam and calling out 'Allahu Akbar ' (God is Great), Brazau had art supplies and easels available for participants. But the majority of onlookers had no interest in participating.
“It was tense”, Brazau admits. “I was threatened with violence.”
The self-proclaimed free speech activist organized the event as part of international 'Draw Mohammed Day', which falls on May 20th. Established in 2010 after a series of death threats against artists who drew representations of the Islamic prophet, the day has become a global rallying cry for those who say they fight for freedom of speech and artistic expression.
“It seems to be accepted in today's society that it's not polite to insult religion,” Brazau says. “If Christians told me tomorrow I couldn't draw Jesus, I'd be out there insulting him just because they told me I can't. Why do religious ideas trump my expression?”
A judge recently disagreed with Brazau's point of view. Calling him a '"hate monger", Judge S. Ford Clements ruled that Brazau abused his free speech rights on a series of occasions involving flyers he handed out in September of 2012 depicting a pregnant Muslim woman with a bomb as her stomach. Other images in the pamphlet associated Islam with bestiality, pedophila, and satanism.
Brazau was sentenced to nine months for wilfully promoting hatred against Muslims, criminal harassment, and breach of probation.
When asked if he was afraid of legal repercussions over his weekend activities, Brazau is firm.
“I see myself as a political prisoner....I'm dealing with a bigger and larger principle- freedom of speech. I believe in my soul that what I am doing is right.”