By MELISSA BURTON
Special to the News
“No Muslim ban on stolen land,” was shouted by thousands of protesters, who gathered outside the U.S. Consulate in downtown Toronto on Saturday, Feb. 4., in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s ban on immigration implemented last month.
“I’m here for my daughter, I want her to live in a better world,” said Nyla Obaid, 26, a PhD student from Toronto. Obaid brought her infant daughter with her to the event.
The event, called National Day of Action against Islamophobia and White Supremacy, was held by more than 150 organizations and took place in over 40 cities across Canada. According to the group’s Facebook page, they want a complete public condemnation by the Canadian government of Trump’s “Muslim ban,” which restricts travellers from seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S.
On Friday, Jan. 27, Trump signed an executive order temporarily prohibiting anyone from Iraq, Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia from entering the United States.
By Saturday, complete chaos had taken over major airports with reports of dozens of U.S. citizens, residents and Green Card holders being detained for several hours. This sparked outrage throughout the country, which had thousands of protesters flooding the airports.
After lawsuits were filed on behalf of the travellers and four federal judges temporarily blocked the ban, U.S. Federal District Judge James Robart issued a restraining order on Feb. 3, allowing people to travel as they did before the ban.
The ban included refugees from Syria fleeing for their lives from war, some of whom had already been properly vetted by immigration authorities and approved to live in the U.S.
One of the speakers at the rally, spoken-word poet Nasim Asgari, had an uplifting message for protesters while also pointing out that Canada is not innocent when it comes to the treatment of Muslims and other minorities.
“Truth, love and justice are what you fight for. It’s what you strive for, when it’s the only thing you’re willing to stand on guard for. I won’t stand on guard for a nation that doesn’t stand on guard for me and its people.”
After rallying for a couple hours on University Avenue., in front of the consulate, the 5,000-strong crowd marched through the streets chanting and holding signs until arriving at the Federal Court of Canada building.
Among the crowd were two Toronto physicians, Sabrina Akhtar, 33, and Asim Alam, 36, showing their support for Muslims and disdain for Trump by holding a sign that read: “When injustice becomes law, resistance becomes duty.”
Like most people at the protest, Akhtar and Alam wanted to show solidarity for their American neighbours. “We are human beings and basically we’re standing against what we think is absolutely wrong,” said Alam.
On Feb. 9, after an appeal made by the Department of Justice, three judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously decided against reinstating the ban.
As part of a statement released, the judges said, “The Government has pointed to no evidence that any alien from any of the countries named in the (executive) order has perpetrated a terrorist attack in the United States. Rather than present evidence to explain the need for the executive order, the government has taken the position that we must not review its decision at all. We disagree.”