TORONTO: Vigiling against Islamophobia




1 February 2011
TORONTO: Vigiling against Islamophobia

by Rebecca Johnson


“We don’t refer to the Ulster Unionists as Protestant
terrorists, nor the Irish Republican Army as Catholic Terrorists, but the media
is full of reference to “Islamic terrorists. This rhetoric incites prejudice
and violence against Muslims and must stop!”  With these words, Annie Hyder, Muslim student at Ryerson University
addressed an interfaith candlelight vigil in Toronto, provided as an
alternative voice to a nearby support rally for the English Defense League
(EDL)— a British right-wing group responsible for a wave of violent anti-Islamic/anti-Muslim
street protests in the United Kingdom since 2009. (See  The EDL support rally, believed
to be the first in Canada, was organized by the Jewish Defence League (JDL), on
the evening of 11 January 2011 at the Toronto Zionist Centre.

In alliance with the twenty-person vigil organized
by members of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT) and members of CUPE Local 3903 First
Nations Solidarity Working Group, approximately fifty members of Anti-Racist
Action (ARA) Toronto demonstrated directly outside the Toronto Zionist Centre
Jewish participants in the vigil  denounced the Jewish Defence League’s support of the EDL.  Jason Kunin of Independent Jewish Voices
said, “The JDL is a violent extremist group, and has no place in the Jewish

In addition to concern about the Islamophobic nature
of the JDL/EDL support rally—expressed in signs such as “Yes! to our common
humanity”, and “No! to Islamophobia”—CPTers voiced concern about police
response to the Anti Racist Action demonstration. “Without provocation on the
part of the ARA, I saw eight mounted police charge and drive them to the opposite
side of the road,” reported Julián Gutierrez Castaño.  Police arrested four demonstrators,
including two who were videotaping, and confiscated their cameras. Police
released both without charge, and returned one video-camera after erasing the

Five Muslim women passing by joined the vigil near
its end. “Thank you for doing this;” said one, “It’s very compelling to see
people here who are not even Muslim literally braving the elements for this

No! To violence against Muslims


For additional photos of the event click here.  

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