By Lethbridge Herald on March 19, 2017.
About one dozen people gathered at City Hall on Sunday to protest the non-binding Motion 103, which calls on the Canadian government to condemn Islamophobia.
First tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid in the House of Commons last December, M-103 condemns “Islamophobia and all forms of systemic racism and religious discrimination.”
The rally was one of several that took place at Town Halls across the country, organized by the Canadian Coalition of Concerned Citizens.
“For about two hours, people are just going out, fighting so hard for our freedom of speech that we fought so hard to obtain. And now that we have it, we’re going to lose it,” said protestor Tacy Ellingson, who displayed a Canada flag. One man excused himself from the rally upon learning a reporter was present.
A similar rally was held on March 4 in which a few supporters showed up, but a counter rally organized by the Coalition of Municipalities Against Racism and Discrimination drew a larger presence.
M-103 has been criticized for singling out Islamophobia. Khalid was urged to soften her wording to reflect all racism and religious discrimination equally, but last month she stood firm on not removing the word Islamophobia from the Motion. It was debated Feb. 15.
The Motion also requests a committee to study how racism and religious discrimination can be reduced and to collect data on hate crimes.
Ellingson said the goal of their rally was not about racism, but rather about inclusivity for all.
“I have all sorts of friends with all sorts of preferences and religious beliefs, and I feel they are open to choose that,” she said. “If they want to be a man and marry a man, I’m all for it. If you want to be a woman and marry a woman, I’m all for it. If they want to worship Islam, do so, in your own home, as do Christians that pray in their own homes.”
Ellingson said she attended the rally to help raise awareness of repercussions involved with the Motion. As a mother of three daughters, Ellingson fears it could be the beginning of Sharia law in Canada, and then she and her daughters will lose all of their rights.
“Islamophobia, or whatever they’re calling it, is just getting their toe in the door,” she said. “Canada is a beautiful country. It’s a beautifully inclusive country, and we need to be just that — inclusive. This is causing all sorts of problems everywhere. You either need to be inclusive of all religions under M103 or none, because they’re picking and choosing and it’s being a contradiction in itself.”
Feedback on the rally from passersby was mixed, Ellingson said. A few people honked and waved, and others couldn’t or wouldn’t come to the rally for fear of any repercussions.
“You hide behind it because it’s a ‘no no,’” she said. “And we had a couple people come and get in our face and get a little upset, until they were educated,” she said. “Educate yourself. That’s all people need to do. Read into it.”
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