Duelling rallies at city hall stay peaceful – Calgary

About 150 people took part in opposing but peaceful rallies at Calgary city hall on Friday night.

A heavy police presence kept the two sides from getting too close to each other at municipal plaza.

About 100 people chanted and listened to speeches to mark the annual International Day of al-Quds rally.  

Events are held around the world as a sign of solidarity with the Palestinian people and other oppressed groups.

Local organizer Riyaz Khawaja rejects the notion from their opponents that this is a rally to incite hatred of Israel.

“We are not here not against Jews or any faith. We are here against the Zionists,” said Khawaja. 

Several times through the al-Quds rally, people chanted “Long live Palestine” and “Israel out of Palestine.”


Surrounded by a cordon of police officers, about 50 pro-Israel demonstrators on the other side of the municipal plaza chanted, sang and danced.. 

The Alberta head of the Jewish Defence League, Don Sharpe, was critical of the al-Quds gathering and said it was important for the local Jewish community to oppose it.

“The only purpose to this rally is to incite hatred against Jews,” said Sharpe. 

One person in the pro-Israel group carried a sign that read “Stop hating Jews.”

More protests this weekend

More events will be held in Calgary on the weekend which are expected to cause tensions in the community.

On Saturday, a rally called We Stand United in One Love Canada is set for 12 p.m. at city hall.

And later on Saturday, at 5:30 p.m., the Calgary Anti-Oppression Interfaith Rally will also take place at city hall.

An anti-Islam group, the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) has been advertising an event on Facebook for Saturday afternoon at Olympic Plaza, dubbing it the Patriotic Unity Mega Festival.

But Calgary Recreation denied its application for a special event permit, “on the basis that your organization, and messages it espouses, are hateful,” the city told the group in a…

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