Diversity rally

Nicholas Rickards (Islamophobia not welcome sign) with other diversity supporters at a rally at City Hall on March 4.

Nicholas Rickards (Islamophobia Not Welcome sign) with other diversity supporters at a rally at City Hall on March 4.

Canada welcomes people from around the world from different faiths and backgrounds to make a new home here without fear of reprisal for being from a different religion.

Across Canada the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Canadians (CCCC) organized a March for Freedom, Liberty and Justice, against the proposed Motion M 103 on March 4, including Lethbridge.

After the Jan. 29 mosque shooting in Quebec City, Liberal MP Iqra Khalid tabled M 103 to have the government condemn Islamophobia, a word that is causing a lot of debate.

M 103 asks the government to quell the climate of hate and fear against Islam.

A study and collection of data of hate crime reports and impacted communities is also being looked at.

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Opponents of M 103 like the CCCC, say that Sharia law or Islamic law is incompatible with western values in regards to freedom of religion, treatment of women and being able to express opposing views on Islam.

City hall was ablaze with signs supporting diversity, shunning Islamophobia.

The crowd was full of people from different backgrounds and faiths or non-faiths.

Although there were a few people from the CCCC that were said to have shown up, there was no one around to give a statement when the media arrived.

Event organizer Kristina Larkin wanted to gather people from the city to come out to show support for diversity and the Muslim community.

“It’s always important to stand up against the possibility of racism, Islamophobia, division and hatred might be the narrative that people hear from Lethbridge, it’s always important to stand up against those things because that is not who we are and we need people to know that,” said Larkin.

As hundreds of people came out to show their support in Lethbridge, across Canada the CCCC did show up to other rallies and there were debates such as in Toronto with over 1000 people and three people were arrested.

Opponents of M 103 say that Canada already has hate speech laws and Conservative MP David Anderson says it should include, with Muslims – Jews, Christians, Sikhs, Hindus and other religious communities.

The word Islamophobia is used in M 103, some say it is likened to homophobia, claustrophobia words that describe a disorder which then needs medical or psychological help.

Whether you support or dislike another race or religion, causing a disturbance which will incite violence is punishable by law in Canada.

Chris Spearman showed up to the rally to show his support for diversity in the city.

“We’ve always benefited from people who come to our city from elsewhere, in no time at all they are working and contributing to our community, we don’t really have a tolerance for those who believe we should be shutting people out and who live lives of fear because they don’t understand the situation,” said Spearman.

With all that is going on in the world such as wars in the middle east, mosque shootings here in Canada, dissident views are causing a debate that is now including the law when mutual understanding won’t work.

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Todd is a second year Digital Communications and Media student at Lethbridge College with a focus in Digital Journalism. He was previously employed in the construction industry running a hydro-vac truck. He plays bass and guitar player for local band Stargazer and is looking to make a documentary on the Blood Reserve.

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