Hundreds of Calgary Muslims protest ISIS violence in Iraq

Sectarian violence in Iraq prompted hundreds of Sunni and Shia Muslims in Calgary to stand together in protest of ISIS on Saturday.

Sunni, Shia Muslims gathered outside Calgary City Hall to protest sectarian violence in Iraq

Hundreds of Sunni and Shiite Muslims stood together outside Calgary City Hall Saturday afternoon to protest against the sectarian violence and terrorism ripping apart Iraq. (Meghann Dionne/Radio-Canada)

Violence in Iraq prompted hundreds of Sunni and Shia Muslims in Calgary to stand together in protest of ISIS on Saturday.

About 200 people gathered outside Calgary City Hall Saturday, many carrying signs opposing the Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. Over the past few weeks ISIS militants have taken control of multiple northern Iraqi cities and also launched an attack on the country' largest oil refinery.

"We are gathered here today to protest any form of terrorism which is happening around the globe, especially in Iraq," said Riyaz Khawaja, who is president of the Hussaini Association of Calgary, which represents Shia Muslims. "We gather here to raise our voices and let the Canadian government know that they should be vigilant about what's happening inside of Canada."

Over the past few months, CBC News has uncovered exclusive details about several young Calgary men moving overseas to fight as jihadists in Syria and Iraq.

No one knows for sure how many men from Calgary, or Canada as a whole, have left to wage jihad.

However, Canadian Security Intelligence Service director Michel Coulombe testified before the Senate national security and defence committee that an estimated 130 Canadians have gone abroad to join terror groups in Syria, Yemen, Somalia and North Africa.

He estimated about 30 of those people had left to fight in the Syria-Iraq area.

"There are radicals in this country," said Khawaja. "They are brainwashing our youth and taking their steps toward terrorism, which is against Islam itself."

Khawaja says he and other community leaders are working hard to help youth understand they should not listen to radicals.

Calgary police also say they are watching radicalization in the city but have not spoken about what is being done to tackle religious extremism at home.