April 26, 2019 11:07 pm

Activist ‘shocked and dismayed’ over Winnipeg mayor’s call to remove her from event

Activist Linda Sarsour, right, responded to Winnipeg mayor Brian Bowman before making taking part in a panel discussion Friday night.

Michael Draven/Global News

Despite calls from mayor Brian Bowman to have her removed, an event featuring activist Linda Sarsour carried on Friday night in Winnipeg.

And Sarsour also had a chance to respond to the mayor’s comments.

“I thought I was being invited to a democratic country where the Canadian people enjoyed freedom of speech,” Sarsour said before the event.

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“And I was quite shocked that a mayor would be denouncing a person he does not know. He has never met me before, he has never engaged in conversation and unfortunately chose one group over the majority.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman calls for groups to remove controversial speaker from event

Sarsour, an American activist, has been called anti-Semitic by politicians, activists and scholars.

She’s come under fire as one of the organizers of the Women’s March, which held mass protests against U.S. president Donald Trump in 2017.

Earlier this week at a press conference with members of B’nai B’rith and the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg, Bowman said he didn’t feel it was “appropriate to provide this individual a public platform to further propagate anti-Semitic views and hate.”

“The topic that they’re trying to deal with and have discussions is something that is important in a free and democratic society, but welcoming someone who is clearly an anti-Zionist … is concerning,” said Bowman.

READ MORE: Winnipeg cafe targeted with anti-Semitic graffiti

Sarsour said it’s the first time an elected official has spoken out and attempted to deny her to speak.

“I’m not happy about the controversy, but I’m also not immune to it,” she said.

“I’ve been targeted by the president of the United States of America, so I think I can take a little mayor from Winnipeg.”

Meanwhile, around 30 protesters lined up outside the site of the event, the Ukrainian Labour Temple, Friday night, carrying signs and Israeli flags. The event was a panel discussion put on by the Social Planning Council of Winnipeg.

Protestors lined up outside the Ukrainian Labour Temple before an event featuring activist Linda Sarsour Friday.

Michael Draven/Global News

“This is not a city of anti-Semitism, this is not a city of racism,” said demonstrator Ron East.

“We do not bring people into our city who are going to cause us to be divisive. She’s a person who should not be allowed to have a platform unless someone else has a balanced platform to counter the assertions that she’s about to make. [It’s] outrageous.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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