Pro­test­ers gather out­side U.S. con­sulate

Demon­stra­tors speak out against Is­lam­o­pho­bia in the U.S. and Canada

The McGill Daily - - News - Ma­rina Cupido The Mcgill Daily

On Mon­day Jan­uary 30, roughly fifty pro­test­ers gath­ered out­side the United States Con­sulate at St. Alexan­dre and René Lévesque. Car­ry­ing signs read­ing “Im­mi­grants Wel­come” and “Open the Bor­ders,” and chant­ing slo­gans con­demn­ing fas­cism and Is­lam­o­pho­bia, the pro­test­ers blocked the doors of the build­ing for over an hour.

Mean­while, more than a dozen po­lice cars had gath­ered on sur­round­ing streets, with of­fi­cers sur­round­ing the pro­test­ers, and ob­serv­ing them closely. Sev­eral news crews were also present on the scene, and, in ad­di­tion to the sur­veil­lance cam­eras adorn­ing the build­ing, an un­seen staff mem­ber in­stalled a por­ta­ble cam­era in a win­dow over­look­ing the con­sulate doors. Notic­ing the new cam­era, sev­eral pro­test­ers waved or raised mid­dle fin­gers in its di­rec­tion.

The demon­stra­tion was a di­rect re­sponse to the ex­ec­u­tive or­der signed on Jan­uary 27 by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, which banned peo­ple from seven Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity coun­tries – Iraq, Iran, Libya, So­ma­lia, Su­dan, Syria, and Ye­men – from en­ter­ing the U.S.. The or­der also bans Syr­ian refugees from en­ter­ing the coun­try in­def­i­nitely.

In the fol­low­ing days, the U.S. gov­ern­ment faced crit­i­cism from across the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum and around the world. Hun­dreds of peo­ple with valid visas found them­selves de­tained at U.S. air­ports and some­times de­nied ac­cess to le­gal coun­sel, while an­gry crowds protested out­side. On Fe­bru­ary 3, a fed- eral judge is­sued a tem­po­rary re­strain­ing or­der block­ing the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the ex­ec­u­tive or­der on the grounds that it con­sti­tutes harm­ful and un­law­ful dis­crim­i­na­tion against Mus­lim peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the BBC. At the time of pub­li­ca­tion, how­ever, it is un­clear how the re­strain­ing or­der will be im­ple­mented, or how long it will last.

Khosro Ber­ah­mandi, who is per­son­ally af­fected by the ex­ec­u­tive or­der and could not travel to the U.S., told The Daily he had come to the con­sulate “to raise our voice against what’s hap­pen­ing right now in the world.”

“Ev­ery na­tion [...] has a fear of oth­ers,” he said, “and we’re all re­spon­si­ble for not al­low­ing or pro­mot­ing this fear. Canada as well has prac­ticed this sort of ap­proach to pro­mote fear, and [some] peo­ple from Canada, at the same time, they raise their voice against that.”

Protest or­ga­nizer Bill Van Driel also high­lighted Canada’s home­grown Is­lam­o­pho­bia.

“The demo to­day is in re­sponse to Trump’s ‘Mus­lim ban,’” Van Driel told The Daily, “but we’re also try­ing to talk about the ways that Canada is com­plicit in this. [...] So open­ing the bor­ders in one of our core de­mands, but we’re also de­mand­ing that Canada aban­don the ‘Safe Third Coun­try’ agree­ment with the United States.”

This agree­ment, signed in 2004, stip­u­lates that in­di­vid­u­als seek­ing refugee sta­tus must make a claim for pro­tec­tion in the first coun­try – ei­ther the U.S. or Canada – in which they land. As such, many ad­vo­cacy groups have ex­pressed con­cern that a Syr­ian refugee af­fected by the ex­ec­u­tive or­der could con­ceiv­ably be turned away from seek­ing asy­lum in Canada, on the grounds that the U.S. con­sti­tutes a ‘safe coun­try.’

“I don’t think Canada is that dif­fer­ent from the U.S.,” said Van Driel. “Both were founded on land theft and geno­cide against In­dige­nous na­tions, and par­tic­u­larly after yes­ter­day’s shoot­ings [in Que­bec City], ob­vi­ously we’re all think­ing about Is­lam­o­pho­bia. A lot of the main­stream dis­course seems to be fo­cus­ing on Trump as the cause of it, [...] but at the same time, the ‘rea­son­able ac­com­mo­da­tion’ de­bate [in Que­bec] is go­ing back thirty years at this point. [...] This isn’t new, and it’s not par­tic­u­lar to Amer­ica.”

After roughly an hour and a half, the pro­test­ers dis­persed peace­fully. The con­sulate had re­mained open through­out, un­like its Toronto coun­ter­part, which had closed in an­tic­i­pa­tion of protests.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.