Anti-Islam rally outside Calgary City Hall draws protesters
A Sunday afternoon gathering of roughly 30 members and supporters of a group with an anti-Muslim stance was met by more than 100 vocal opponents during the event in the plaza outside the Calgary municipal building.
Members of the Calgary Police Service were on hand to keep the peace during the rally that drew a crowd of confused onlookers and disappointed Calgarians. Judi Sommerville, who offers guided walking tours through the downtown core, was alarmed to discover the event was being held near the spot she was to meet her afternoon tour group.
“This is really disheartening to have to show visitors this kind of hatred,” said Sommerville. “Don’t these people have better things to do than spout hate at each other?”
Sommerville hoped those in her walking tour would not allow the demonstration to impact their impression of Calgary.
During the rally, the opposing sides chanted their messages over a line of uniformed CPS officers that separated the groups. The event, organized by the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) was scheduled to take place on Saturday at Olympic Plaza but, according to organizers, city officials revoked the permits.
Joey Deluca of the WCAI says his organization is not racist and Sunday’s event was about freedom of expression and voicing concerns with the federal government’s border policies.
“We’re not attacking specific people,” said Deluca. “(We’re) just saying Justin Trudeau’s gotta tighten things up.”
Jason Devine of the Anti-Fascist Action group refuted Deluca’s claims. “This is hatred towards an identifiable group. These people are Islamophobic. They hate Muslims.”
“I think it’s sad the WCAI and others have decided to show up and spread their hatred but I’m happy they’re outnumbered by people who completely disagree.”
Holly Lakeman and her teenage son, Austin Weed, were in the downtown core when they heard the shouting between the two groups.
"At first it's kind of scary, all the yelling," said Lakeman. "We came over here because, (Austin) is 13, and I want to educate him on things that are going on in this city and how to love everybody."
The 13-year-old said the event differed from the Calgary he knows. "Most of the city is pretty calm and it's kind of crazy to see something like this going on downtown."
Despite the tension between the two sides, the Calgary Police Service made no arrests and witnessed no physical violence during the rally.
With files from CTV's Ina Sidhu