TORONTO – Hundreds rallied against Islamophobia at the U.S. Consulate in Toronto Saturday, in a bid to push the Trudeau government to denounce the U.S. ban on immigration and travel from seven Muslim-majority countries.
The rally, one of about a dozen across Canada, was organized in opposition to U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel ban and to condemn last weekend’s shooting at a Quebec City mosque that left six men dead.
“People act like whatever’s going on (in the U.S.) does not happen in Canada. But as we saw in Quebec, all these people got shot in a mosque. We don’t feel safe in our country with all the Islamophobic rhetoric that’s going around. It’s unjust, it’s uncalled for, and it’s absolutely wrong,” said Sumaiya Zaman.
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She said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau should revoke the so-called safe third country agreement, which makes it difficult for refugees to seek asylum in Canada if they come through the U.S.
“They should also lift the cap on the number of private sponsorships so refugees can find safety here,” she said.
It was a sentiment echoed by rally organizers. In a list of demands, they called for the government open the Canada-U.S. borders, granting permanent status to new immigrants. They also called on Trudeau to condemn Trump’s immigration ban.
Trudeau’s government has faced criticism because it hasn’t lifted a cap on the number of privately-sponsored refugees who can come into the country after the American ban was put in place.
“Justin Trudeau always tries to play it safe, and this is not the time to play it safe. You’re either for equality or not. You can’t say you’re for diversity and not condemn something that affects us so much,” Zaman said.
Police wouldn’t give an estimated number of ralliers, but the crowd filled a city block.
This was the third large-scale protest in Toronto in two weeks. On Jan. 21, thousands flooded the city streets for the Toronto Women’s March, and on Jan. 30, there was another rally against the immigration ban which caused the U.S. Consulate to shut its operations for the day.
And while the protest wasn’t as light-hearted as the Toronto Women’s March last month — Saturday’s organizers skipped the pop music used to pump up the crowd at the Women’s March, for instance — some families still brought their kids.
Kerry Clare attended the protest with her family, including her two young daughters, ages seven and three.
Those daughters, she said, were the reason she was there.
“We feel that as their parents, we are responsible for the world we brought them into, and we want to do our best to make it better,” she said. “We want to make sure they know that we did something. I don’t know how meaningful it really is, but I just feel like I have no choice.”
“I like seeing everybody standing up for what they feel like,” said her seven-year-old daughter, Harriett. “We’re standing up for what we think is right.”