Pro-Muslim rally peaceful ahead of anti-Islam rally planned for Sunday
'We feel, as Canadians, we want everyone to feel welcome in this country and be at peace'
A group of Calgarians gathered at city hall on Saturday ahead of a march against Islam planned for Sunday at the nearby Olympic Plaza.
Organized by the Calgary Anti-Oppression Network, the Saturday afternoon event drew about 70 people. The event had two main goals, according to 86-year-old Mariam Meir, one of the organizers.
"First to show support for the Muslim community and anybody else who is being oppressed," she told CBC News Saturday. "And the other is to show unity, because we feel, as Canadians, we want everyone to feel welcome in this country and be at peace and feel happy here."
Asfa Riyaz, a young Muslim woman, says she was impressed by the turnout.
"There are people here from different religions, from different ethnicities," she said. "It makes me happy to see that they're all standing here for Muslims, for black people, for the LGBT community.
"We're all here for the same goal and that's humanity."
Another event, We Stand United in One Love Canada, was held earlier in the day Saturday, also as a protest against the Worldwide Coalition Against Islam (WCAI) rally planned for Sunday.
The WCAI group had been advertising an event on Facebook for Saturday afternoon at Olympic Plaza, dubbing it the Patriotic Unity Mega Festival.
But Calgary Recreation denied its application for a special event permit, "on the basis that your organization, and messages it espouses, are hateful," the city told the group in a written response.
Instead, they decided to hold what they are calling a peaceful march on Sunday afternoon.
With files from Kate Adach