Calgary rally draws dozens opposed to proposed anti-Islam event
The rally was organized after the “World Wide Coalition Against Islam” had been advertising an event on Facebook that was originally planned for Saturday afternoon at Olympic Plaza. However, the city denied them a special event permit, stating the event “espoused hatred”.
“We think that by having these public displays and educating [people], we can get people to understand that Islamophobia is not a legitimate perspective. It’s not a legitimate ideology and it needs to be countered,” rally co-organizer Jason Devine, said.
Meanwhile, organizers of the “Just Say No to Hatred and Racism Rally” said the city revoked a permit for their event that was scheduled to be held at Rotary Park Saturday afternoon.
Stephen Garvey, who is also the leader and founder of the National Advancement Party of Canada, held a news conference at Rotary Park to explain his side of the story.
“The purpose of the festival was to create unity and dialogue. Instead, the City of Calgary violated our charter rights,” Garvey said.
Garvey suggests his event was punished because of his previous association with the World Wide Coalition Against Islam through their shared opposition to Sharia Law.
“We thought they were going too far so that’s why there was a sever,” Garvey said.
“The hate group is not part of this particular festival. We were trying to work with them because both groups do not support Sharia Law, so that was the only uniting force for us. But we reached a juncture where our values conflicted, so there was a sever,” Garvey said.
A heated discussion broke out at Rotary Park when some protesters from the anti-Islamophobia rally marched up the hill to Rotary Park to confront Stephen Garvey who was expressing his disappointment with the city pulling the permit for his event. There were several police officers there to ensure things didn’t get out of hand.
“I think the deeper roots here is there’s a political correctness culture going on and there is fear to offend. But we can’t sacrifice that for our freedoms. And this is what’s happening today,” Garvey said.
Garvey said he’s a victim of organizing previous rallies against M103, the motion that calls for the Canadian government to condemn Islamophobia. But others said that is just an anti-immigrant position hiding behind free speech.
“We are sending a message that Muslims are not there to suck your resources or to promote terrorism or to bring Sharia Law. All these imaginary fears they have been putting inside the heads of Canadians are just absolutely baseless,” community activist Saima Jamal, said.
Despite the permit rejection, the World Wide Coalition Against Islam said it will hold a peaceful march starting at Olympic Plaza Sunday afternoon.
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