Anti-Islamophobia rally draws hundreds to Winnipeg City Hall
Published Saturday, March 4, 2017 2:56PM CST
Last Updated Saturday, March 4, 2017 7:17PM CST
A rally against Islamophobia drew a crowd of hundreds to Winnipeg City Hall Saturday morning. Organizers planned it in response to another rally set for the same time and place, opposing a motion in the House of Commons condemning Islamophobia.
Protesters holding signs calling for support for refugees and an end to hate speech stood next to activists with faces covered and wearing red and black.
The first rally was organized by a group called the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens, in conjunction with similar protests in cities across Canada, opposed to M-103, a motion to conduct a study on reducing systemic racism and religious discrimination, including Islamophobia, and collect data on hate crime reports.
A group calling itself FF1 – Fascist Free Treaty 1 planned the rally in response. It’s unclear how many people turned out for the original rally against M-103.
FF1 founder Omar Kinnarath said he was amazed by the turnout. “We thought that only 30, 40 people would show up,” he said.
“The community is supportive. We’re drawing a line in the sand and saying, any alt-right groups, any white supremacists, any neo-Nazis that want to show up in Winnipeg, this is what they have to deal with, ‘cause ‘Peg City don’t play.”
On the FF1 Facebook page, the group says they support free speech, but Kinnarath said they wanted to send a message that any group representing the “alt-right” that wanted to assemble would have to contend with a show of opposition.
“Whether it’s Rebel Media, whether it’s Kelly Leitch, whether it’s any alt-right group that has any hate towards Muslims, any hate towards immigrants, having an anti-refugee message, this is what you deal with,” he said.
One woman who planned to attend the original rally said she received a message from an organizer warning her not to go, however, she and her boyfriend decided to see for themselves.
She said she was upset by the counter-protesters, because she said she supports free speech and doesn’t want to spread hate.
“We already have Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we already have something that protects all religious groups,” said Kennedy, who asked that her last name not be published. “In this motion, they single out Islam, and I’m just questioning why is one being singled out.”
When Kennedy became visibly upset at the rally, she said some people started mocking her and calling her a “fascist.”
“I just believe in women’s rights so strongly. I wasn’t even there saying anything wrong.”
Several police officers attended the rally, but no incidents were reported.
With files from The Canadian Press