Thousands of people gathered in front of the U.S. consulate in downtown Toronto and marched through the streets to the federal courthouse to protest against Islamophobia, and U.S. President Donald Trump’s policies.
Demonstrators were calling on the Canadian government to “condemn Trump,” who signed an executive order instating a travel ban on citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. last week.
Protesters lined the streets chanting and holding signs to show their disapproval of Trump’s ban.
“I’m here because banning people because of their affiliation with a specific nation or a specific religion goes against some of the foundations of our liberal democracy and I came here to publicly oppose that and show my support for inclusivity,” said demonstrator Sharon Kashani to Global News.
U.S. District Judge James Robart temporarily suspended the enforcement of the ban Friday, but Trump has since responded saying the ruling will be overturned.
“We know President Trump will be around for the next four years and if in less than two weeks he’s able to cause this much harm to so many, we have to be vigilant,” said Walied Khogali, a demonstration organizer, to Global News.
The rally was also organized in response to 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, according to The Canadian Press.
In a sentiment echoed by demonstration organizers, Zaman also called for the government to revoke the Safe Third Country Agreement that makes it difficult for refugees to seek asylum in Canada if they come through the U.S.
In a list of demands, organizers also called for the government to open the Canada-U.S. borders and grant permanent status to new immigrants.
“I think the tweets are appreciated from the Prime Minister but that real action needs to be taken,” said protester Anthony Oliveira to Global News.
Over 150 organizations have joined and endorsed the “National Day of Action against against Islamophobia and White Supremacy,” in conjunction with similar protests taking place across the country, including in Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver.
Toronto Police closed University Ave. in both directions from Dundas Street West to Queen Street West to ensure safety for the protesters.
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.
With files from The Canadian Press and Erica Vella