Dozens gathered at Lethbridge City Hall to support Muslims like Aslam Piprawala Saturday, after hearing about an anti-Muslim rally being organized.
Piprawala, a chaplain at the Lethbridge Muslim Association, was wrapping up at the Islamic Centre Friday night when his friend informed him that the group ‘Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens’ organized a rally to stand up against Sharia Law and Globalization.
“We were told that there was going to be a rally against the Muslims and I was very surprised,” Piprawala said. “This can get into actual hatred and aggression if it escalates. Then it can get really bad and we want to avoid that at all costs.”
Kristina Larkin chose to counter the anti-Sharia Law rally by organizing a rally of her own, showing support for the Muslim community and other minority groups.
“It’s always very important to stand up against the possibility that racism, Islamophobia, division, hatred, might be the narrative that people hear from Lethbridge,” Larkin said. “It’s always important to stand up against those things because that is not who we are.”
Lethbridge Mayor Chris Spearman made an appearance at the event to echo that.
“We’ve always benefited in our city from people who’ve come here from elsewhere. In no time at all they’re working and they’re contributing to our community. We don’t really have a tolerance for those who believe we should be shutting people out,” Spearman said.
The Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens didn’t show up for its rally which was scheduled at the same time and location.
Lethbridge resident Nicholas Rickards said this leads him to believe he’s making a difference.
“The coalition was meant to be here and they’re not. Clearly it helps,” Rickards said. “It’s disruptive and it shows a lot of love and support. It does do a lot.”
As for Piprawala, he’s happy with the end result. He said anyone against his culture is likely misinformed.
“We try to spread as much information as possible with regards to the religion of Islam,” Piprawala said. “We are trying to let everyone know that the religion of Islam is a peaceful religion.”
When we first reached out to the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens to find out why the planned rally didn’t happen, it was not willing to comment. It later told us “people got cold feet.”