Tensions ran high as a number of people gathered at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square Saturday to voice support or opposition for the anti-Islamophobia Parliamentary motion, M-103.
The Montreal-based Canadian Coalition for Concerned Citizens, which opposes M-103, called for “all Canadian Patriots that believe in freedom, liberty and justice that stands against Sharia Law and globalization” to attend, according to their facebook page.
Counter-protestors gathered at the same time in the square to stand in direct opposition to the demonstration, donning signs and chanting their support of the motion and against Islamophobia.
M-103 is a private members motion put forth by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid that asks the government to “recognize the need to quell the increasing public climate of hate and fear” and condemn Islamophobia, as well as all other kinds of “systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
“We thought it would be a great idea for us to demonstrate that we rejected hate and we will not stand while people promote Islamophobia,” counter-protestor Walied Khogali, member of the Coalition Against White Supremacy and Islamophobia told Global News.
Dozens of officers were at the scene of the protests and police bikes acted as a barricade separating the two sides. At least two people were arrested, according to police.
Similar protests were planned across the country including in Montreal, where some skirmishes were reported, and Saskatchewan.
This isn’t the first time the polarizing issue has led to protests and counter-protests in Toronto. In early February, a small group staged an anti-Islamic protest outside of the Masjid Toronto mosque near Dundas Street West and Chestnut Street.
M-103 is expected to be up for debate again in April.
With files from Erica Vella