Drinking no excuse for racial slurs

Crown: Granted $5,000 bail, Brabant must avoid alcohol
and weapons, respect curfew

The Gazette
Wednesday, June 14, 2006


A handcuffed Pierre Brabant cried in the prisoner's
box yesterday as his mother and sister told Quebec
Court his behaviour in attacking and shouting racial
slurs at two Muslim men on the weekend was completely
out of character.

But crown prosecutor Nadia Berube wasn't buying their
portrait of Brabant, 34, as a hard-working bon vivant
who liked listening to music and hanging out with

Nor was she falling for the defendant's story that
he'd simply had far too much to drink Friday night and
"lost control."

The allegations against Brabant had to be viewed in
the context of the recent arrests in Ontario of 17
young Muslim men suspected of planning terrorist
attacks in Canada, as well as the Supreme Court
challenge on the constitutionality of security
certificates, which began yesterday, the prosecutor

"After the Toronto arrests, vandals attacked mosques
and there were threats," Berube said.

"What's this have to do with Toronto?" Quebec Court
Judge Isabelle Rheault asked.

"In this case, the people were targeted by his
threats," Berube replied. "It's a crime attacking race
and religion."

Rheault ruled that given Brabant's relatively
unblemished past - he was charged with assault and
mischief in 1991 and 1992, respectively - he would be
released on $5,000 bail. She ordered Brabant, a
delivery truck driver, to stay away from alcohol,
respect a 10 p.m.-6 a.m. curfew and not possess
weapons. The accused, who lives a block away from the
Rosemont mosque where the attack occurred, is not to
go within 50 metres of the building.

Brabant is to appear in court Aug. 30 to have a date
set for his preliminary inquiry.

Abderrazek Barhoumi and Said Jaziri, the imam at
Al-Qods mosque on Belanger St. E., came out of the
building about 1 a.m. Saturday. They saw a man walk
toward them and lift his sweater to show a knife in
his belt.

Brabant is alleged to have asked one of the Muslim men
if he had a bomb on him, then asked both if they
wanted to die as martyrs, the police report said.

Saying, "I want to kill you, damn it," Brabant is then
alleged to have pulled out the knife and pointed it in
their direction.

Barhoumi took off on foot, police said, with the
assailant close behind. Jaziri got into his car,
called 911 and started following the two men.

Two police cars arrived on Iberville St., where they
arrested and searched Brabant.

"He said he didn't do anything but then admitted to
asking if the men had explosives," Berube said,
reading from the police report. "Once inside the
police car, Brabant said, 'You're on the side of the
terrorists now.' "

Police found a knife with a 20-centimetre blade
wrapped in newspaper on the ground nearby.

Outside the courtroom, defence lawyer Daphney Colin
brushed off the term "hate crime" when asked about the
charges against her client, which include assault,
uttering death threats and possession of a weapon.
Montreal police called the attack a hate crime when
they arrested Brabant on Saturday morning.

"This is not a hate crime at all," Colin said. "He's a
normal person who drank too much.

"We can't have cases proceeding in connection with
what's happening around the world. If the Toronto
arrests hadn't happened, you wouldn't be here today,"
she told reporters.

Salam Elmenyawi, of the Montreal Muslim Council,
wondered why "every time a Muslim is attacked, people
say the guy is either crazy or drunk."

"We have five Muslim men who were jailed for
committing absolutely no crime," he said, referring to
men held without charge under security certificates.
"We either apply the law equally across the board or
we admit there is institutional racism against

Sarah Elgazzar, of the Canadian Council on American
Islamic Relations, said she was disappointed with the
decision to release Brabant. Such attacks, she said,
makes Muslims nervous.

"This was obviously a threat to someone who was a
symbol of Islam," she said.

 The Gazette (Montreal) 2006


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