Condemnation of Islamophobia focus of St. John's refugee rally

A group gathered in downtown St. John's Sunday to show support for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, and to "call out bigoted and Islamophobic sentiment."
People rallied in St. John's to support refugees and fight back against Islamophobic and racist comments 1:41

About 50 people attended a rally in downtown St. John's Sunday to show support for Syrian refugees arriving in Canada, as well as to send a message against racist and Islamophobic comments.

The group gathered on George Street, holding signs condemning racism towards refugees arriving in Canada.

Mona Shannair, whose family came to Newfoundland and Labrador from Lebanon, said it's an important message to send.

Mona Shannair says if people actually asked Muslims what they believed in, some racism could likely be avoided. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

"It kind of makes me sad a little bit because people are assuming things without knowing. I feel that if they were to go out and ask Muslims really what we think or what we believe in they'd feel a lot better and maybe a lot of this racism would stop," she said.

"But eventually it comes down to maybe just educating some people — if people don't want to be educated then hey, there's always other people to educate."

Where you live shouldn't determine whether you live.- Courtney Figler

Jon Parsons, of Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador and one of the event organizers, said the messages against Islamophobia are an unfortunate necessity.

"We're here to call out some of the bigoted and Islamophobic sentiment that's been circulating in the public discourse and online," he said.

"Really we're just here to try, and on the one had bring a positive message, but on the other hand to say what it is we're against."

Jon Parsons, with Social Justice Co-Operative N.L., says the rally served two purposes: supporting refugees coming to Canada and calling out "bigoted and Islamophobic sentiment." (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Rally attendee Courtney Figler said Canadians and Newfoundlanders and Labradorians need to show their support for people fleeing Syria.

"It's really important to show support to the refugees because I think where you live shouldn't determine whether you live," she said.

"We should be welcoming people here to Canada because we're a free country and we have great lives here."

Courtney Figler says Canadians should be welcoming refugees to their free country. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

With files from Jeremy Eaton

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