Press Release From the Freethought Association of Canada
Troubling news: our president Justin Trottier, who also directs CFIO, was attacked Tuesday night while out postering with fellow FAC member Peter Aruja. The assailants were apparently provoked by the promotion of a pro-atheist event.
Press release follows; please spread the news. We need to speak up about discrimination!
Young atheist leader assaulted at Ryerson University
Police investigating hate crime provoked by postering for controversial event
In what appears to be the first violent hate crime against an atheist, Justin Trottier,
Director of the Center for Inquiry Ontario and President of the Freethought Association of Canada (a national body composed of secularist student groups including the UofT Secular Alliance and the Freethinker's Association of Ryerson) was attacked around midnight on March 27 on the campus of Ryerson University. Ryerson security is treating this as a hate crime.
Mr. Trottier and his colleague Peter Aruja were placing posters for upcoming events at Ryerson University and the University of Toronto, featuring physicist Victor Stenger, author of the New York Time's Best Seller "God: The Failed Hypothesis", set to take place on April 5. While postering, two assailants took offense to the religious implications of the posters advertising for Stenger's book. About fifteen minutes later when Trottier and Aruja were in a more secluded area of the university the two reappeared and initiated a verbal argument.
According to Mr. Trottier "The first individual smacked me in the face twice and said "watch your smart mouth." I said "don't touch me" at which point he head butted me hard in the face, causing my nose to bleed profusely."
The attack targeting an individual for his beliefs clearly represents a hate crime and is being treated as such by Ryerson security. This also represents a disturbing trend of targeting individuals who visibly question the legitimacy of religious dogma. Just last week Toronto Police were involved in the highly publicized threats against Mr. Fatah and Mrs. Hassan of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Here the anonymous individual swore to
"slaughter" the two MCC members, in the name of god, for belonging to an "apostate" organization.
The Humanist Association of Canada spokesperson, Pat O'Brien, responded to this shameful incident: "Atheists have never been accorded the same respect as those with religious beliefs even though our position originates in logic and reason, not myth and superstition. This escalation of a systemic, although till now hidden, discrimination is very troubling."
"I think I discovered the hard way the boundaries of freedom of speech," said Justin Trottier. "The fact that an atheist should fear for his well being while advertising for a university event that seeks to promote free inquiry is alarming, and though I feared for my life briefly, I've never felt as strong about my atheism. My colleagues and I have only strengthened our resolve to forge ahead with our agenda to push for secularism, science and freedom of thought."
The perpetrators were last seen on the north side of Gerrard St., midway between Church St. and Yonge St., walking northward through a pathway, at about 1am. The first perpetrator was about 6', black, with short black hair. He was slim build and clean shaven. He was wearing dark jeans and a blue and white hat. He had on prescription glasses. The second perpetrator was of Middle Eastern descent, 5'4"-5'6" with short, curly, black hair. He was clean shaven with a stalky, muscular build. He was wearing a grey golf shirt, with beige pants. He had prescription glasses. Anyone with information is encouraged to contact the Toronto Police about incident #1255906.
New Coverage: Globe and Mail coverage.