Toronto police are called in after man is evicted from Carmina Burana

An incident at the Toronto Symphony on Wednesday seems likely to end up in court.

A man was removed from a performance of Carmina Burana after persistently directing abuse at a person in an adjacent seat. The offender was white and middle-aged. The victim was Aisha Ahmad, who describes herself as ‘British-born Canadian Muslim. PhD. Security specialist. Professor. Boxer.’

Professor Ahmad lectures on international security at the University of Toronto.


She tweeted: ‘Got chopped in neck and called a “bitch” by old white man at @TorontoSymphony @roythomsonhall. Other patrons backed him & I had to leave.’

She added: ‘As the people around centred their aggression on me, I felt too uncomfortable to stay, so I got up and left.’

The orchestra tells us that hall staff intervened at intermission and removed the disrupter. He has been banned for life from attending Toronto Symphony concerts.

We understand that Toronto Police are investigating the incident with a view to prosecution.

The TSO has issued this statement:

The TSO has zero tolerance for abusive, violent and disrespectful behaviour. We regret this happened and take this situation very seriously. The offender was ejected from the hall and is no longer welcome at the TSO. The matter has been turned over to the Police.

This is the full sequence of Ms Ahmad’s tweets:
– Got chopped in neck and called a “bitch” by old white man at . Other patrons backed him & I had to leave.

-Was sitting with friend. We were told not to take flash photography, so I turned off flash to take one picture before the show started. /2

– Man behind me chopped me in the neck, said “put that away”. I replied “you have no right to touch me; that’s assault.” /2

– He then called me a “child” and a “bitch”. The other older people in the area then turned in support of him.

– As the people around centred their aggression on me, I felt too uncomfortable to stay, so I got up and left.

It sounds like a dispute on concert etiquette raged out of control.

More here on Musical Toronto.

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    • It seems clear that were the woman not apparently muslem, the aggression would have been less. According to the photograph, she wears a head scarf, which for some people is like a red cloth to a bull. Due to the international rise of populism, trumpism, rightwing islamophobia etc. people feel more free to express their antagonism against people they consider ‘the other’ and a ‘potential terrorist’. Everywhere in the Western world, aggression against apparent muslems has considerably increased and barriers of decency lowered.

          • You do realize that it is an idiom, not a colloquialism, yes? It has only one use, unfortunately one based upon a misconception.

          • For what it’s worth, I, and doubtless almost everybody else who reads this blog, knew exactly what you meant.

        • I knew exactly what he meant, but I thought the comment a touch snarky and off the mark to boot. I think Bruce’s gracious apology indicated that he recognized that, and he certainly had no need of your intervention.

    • Nothing, and nor does Professor Ahmed state that her ethnicity or religion had anything to do with the incident. She attributes the man’s attack to her taking a photograph pre-performance without a flash, hardly a mortal sin, and I’m a bit fussy about concert etiquette. Commenter Elizabeth Owen finds all this unclear; I fail to see why. We are not told how it came about that the man was banned for life from TSO concerts, and thus cannot assume, as Bye Bye does, that there was no investigation with other patrons asked about it, bearing in mind also that the police were called in. I also find nothing odd in Ahmad’s response to the man’s touching her. If she has ever taken a self-defense course, she might well have learnt in that context an initial response of that sort to having a hand laid on her. Her words are a little confused, true, for hitting someone is assault, whereas touching someone inappropriately (but not sexually) is usually deemed ‘trespass of the person’, but she’s not a lawyer and the line between touching and hitting can be a thin one. The post reads the imagined into the story and some commenters are following suit, seemingly anxious to debunk her story. If the story is read carefully, it is not so easy to do that.

  • Let me get her story straight: young able bodied “boxer” and “security specialist” (accompanied by a friend no less), got “chopped in neck” by an “old” man while other “older people” around her also turned on her (old Canadian bullies are the worst), so she left (and presumably sought the help of the muscled bouncers that usually collect tickets at concert halls).

    And TSO management bought her story. Without asking why the other patrons supported the alleged old white kung fu master.


    • Yes, it all sounds very odd, doesn’t it. Of course there are rude/racist/whatever idiots all over the place, but if the other audience members so readily took his side it makes you wonder what really happened.
      Also, this: “I replied ‘you have no right to touch me; that’s assault.'” There’s something oddly calculated about the way she put this. It’s not what most people’s first reaction would be if someone attacked them.

      • You have a good point here. I had a similar experience: when I asked oboist Katherine Needleman to stop harassing me, she replied instantly “are you threatening me?”

    • In this context I don’t think that “security specialist” means that she has particular skills in self-defence.

      • Yeah it could mean she deals with security measures like alarms, CCTV’s and such. Not martial arts.

    • Since she probably could have done so, would the appropriate response to the “neck chop” would have been to beat the guy up?

  • Was she confronted because she foolishly took photos.or was it because she was wearing a hijab? It isn’t clear.

    • “I turned off flash to take one picture before the show started” makes it seem like the picture-taking was not the issue. Of course it could have been a grump who thought that nobody should ever take a picture inside of an auditorium, with or without flash, concert or no concert… but that seems unlikely.

      • Seems to me concert halls should make the etiquette clear – that it should be OK to take photos before and after a performance, not during. Is it because of copyright that some are so cagey about any photography at all? Why should any of us have a problem with snapping before the music starts?

        But the whole thing does sound nightmarishly surreal.

  • Not buying her scheit story. The idiot who touched her deserves his punishment for not recognizing the protected class du jour.

      • + 1000

        Interesting use of ‘scheit’, though. Do you think he misspelled the British word for ‘shit’? Forget to capitalize the German word for ‘log’? Completely screw up an ‘erudite’ adversion to composer (Samuel) Scheidt?

        • I love Scheidt! No use trying to explain scheit to you – intellectually way beyond your comprehension. But do continue your grammar policing; maybe you’ll stumble onto an answer that satisfies your curiosity (but you’ll still be wrong).

          • Would you mind explaining what “scheit” means in this context? I don’t speak German. Google Translate tells me it means “log,” but I’m guessing it must be an idiom I’m not familiar with. Thanks.

          • Do have a stab at coming up with an explanation anyway, Steve. Curious people want to know. This is a matter of vocabulary, by the by. Grammar is something quite other.

          • (Sigh) Be as simple as possible: ask yourself, contextually, how the word in question seems to function. Does it seem complimentary? Pejorative? Next, speak the word; does it have any phonetic familiarity?
            The word’s etymology is something different, but certainly you can figure the intent out well enough. You’ve probably struggled thru Joyce at some point, right?

          • OK, well…

            It sounds pejorative in the context. I’d noticed the resemblance to “scheiss” and “shit” and also “shite.” The German translation “log” could fit in with that idea, and it wouldn’t surprise me terribly if the Germans had some poop-related idiom like that.

            Didn’t want to jump to conclusions, though, in case you had something particular you meant, which seemed likely, and in case you felt like explaining it, which I knew was (pardon the expression) a crap shoot. 🙂

            (I’ve read a little Joyce, but none of the hard stuff.)

        • I don’t know what exactly NYMIKE means but the definition of the term ‘alt-right’ on Wikipedia appears to be rather broad:
          The alt-right, or alternative right, is a loose group of people with far-right ideologies who reject mainstream conservatism in favor of white nationalism, principally in the United States, but also to a lesser degree in Canada and Europe. Paul Gottfried is the first person to use the term “alternative right”, when referring specifically to developments within American right-wing politics, in 2008. The term has since gained wide currency with the rise of the so-called “alt-right”. White supremacist Richard Spencer coined the term in 2010 in reference to a movement centered on white nationalism, and has been accused by some media publications of doing so to excuse overt racism, white supremacism, and neo-Nazism. The term drew considerable media attention and controversy during and after the 2016 US presidential election.

          Alt-right beliefs have been described as isolationist, protectionist, antisemitic, and white supremacist, frequently overlapping with Neo-Nazism, nativism and Islamophobia, antifeminism and homophobia, right-wing populism, and the neoreactionary movement. The concept has further been associated with multiple groups from American nationalists, neo-monarchists, men’s rights advocates, and the 2016 presidential campaign of Donald Trump.

          The alt-right has its roots on Internet websites such as 4chan and 8chan, where anonymous members create and use Internet memes to express their ideologies. It is difficult to tell how much of what people write in these venues is serious and how much is intended to provoke outrage. Members of the alt-right use websites like, Alternative Right, Twitter, Breitbart, and InfoWars to convey their message. Alt-right postings generally support Donald Trump and oppose immigration, multiculturalism and political correctness.

          • Lost me at white nationalism. Probably trend more towards libertarian with anarchist leanings, but trump was too hard to turn down.

        • RE ‘scheit’, Steve, an even simpler response from you would have been, “I’m not a very good speller”.

  • Further details from the article…

    “Ahmad said the man approached her a second time during the intermission. She tried to film the interaction with her phone at which point the man lunged at her. She then walked away to avoid any further escalation.”

  • If smartphones would have been banned at TSO hall this whole thing would not have happened. Smartphones have no place in the concert hall. There needs to be a technology which disables them once one enters it.

    • If people over 60 are banned at TSO concerts, this would not have happened too, but then there will not be many left.

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