Hundreds of people gathered outside of Toronto’s Old City Hall Saturday in support of anti-government protesters in Iraq.
Attendees said the event was aimed at raising awareness of the protests that have been happening in the country since Oct. 1.
“Not enough people know what’s going on in Iraq,” said Abdulkhaleq Jraidan.
“That’s why we have this whole movement going. The movement is about raising awareness in the Western world as to what’s happening in Iraq.”
Waves of anti-government protests have engulfed parts of Baghdad and Iraq’s southern provinces since the beginning of October.
The protesters in that country are calling for an overhaul of the government system established there since the U.S.-led war began in 2003.
Demonstrators are complaining of widespread corruption, poor basic services and a lack of job opportunities, all despite vast oil reserves in the country.
The protests have often resulted in violent clashes and government forces have led a heavy security crackdown. As of Nov. 18, at least 320 people have been killed and thousands of others were wounded in the demonstrations.
“I feel like if you are in a position of power you should use that power. That’s why we’re here,” Jraidan said outside of Old City Hall Saturday.
“Everybody’s here because they have the opportunity to come out and be able to peacefully protest. The people in Iraq don’t have that opportunity.”
Some of the attendees at Saturday’s rally said they were also there collecting money to send to people affected by the protests overseas.
Meanwhile, Layan Al-Yassin said she attended the rally specifically to help raise awareness of the events in Iraq.
“I think it’s important just as an act of solidarity to show people that we’re here and there’s a lot of Iraqi people here that still worry about what’s happening back home,” she said.
“We just want to make sure people here in Canada know what’s happening.”
– With files from The Associated Press