Trump's travel ban prompts human chain protest at U.S. Embassy in Ottawa
Speakers call on Canadian government to ask U.S. to rescind travel ban
More than a thousand people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in Ottawa to protest an executive order signed last week by U.S. President Donald Trump, which bans citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.
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Amira Elghawaby, a spokesperson for the National Council of Canadian Muslims, told the crowd on Sussex Drive Monday afternoon that the U.S. travel ban and the Sunday night shooting inside a Quebec City mosque that left six people dead are both about division and hate.
"We have to stand loudly and clearly against all hate, from wherever it comes," Elghawaby told the crowd.
"The idea that a person's religious identity or ethnic identity is enough to determine that they aren't worthy of entering the U.S. — that they are somehow suspect — is deeply flawed, and we fear will only further suspicion of Muslim citizens and residents in the west," she said.
"We are deeply concerned about rising Islamophobia here in Canada, and we fear this policy will aggravate this phenomenon."
The RCMP said 1,100 people were at the embassy during the peak time of the protest, around 12:45 p.m. ET.
'We stand together'
"Today we stand together against those who want to divide us. ... We welcome those who need to seek refuge, that Canada is open to you. And we say to Mr. Trump, your policies, your edicts are not welcome here. They don't reflect our values and they do not reflect the values of Americans," said Paul Dewar, a former NDP MP who held the riding of Ottawa Centre for years, at the protest.
The federal government should formally ask Trump to rescind the ban, Dewar said, and until the ban is lifted the government should suspend the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, which dictates that refugee claimants are required to request refugee protection in the first safe country they arrive in, unless they qualify for an exception.
And thirdly, the City of Ottawa should declare itself a sanctuary for people seeking refuge, Dewar said.
"There is no safety for anyone seeking refuge coming to Canada through the United States now," he said.
Speaking earlier, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada said the same.
'Imperative that the government act immediately'
"It is imperative that the government act immediately to rescind that designation of the United States as a safe country for refugees. That needs to happen. That needs to happen before the end of the day," Alex Neve said.
Between speakers the crowd chanted phrases including "No hate, no fear, refugees are welcome here," and "No bans, no walls, sanctuary for one and all."
The U.S. Department of State for travel tweeted Sunday about the planned protest in Ottawa, warning Americans to "exercise caution."
Security Message for <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Ottawa?src=hash">#Ottawa</a>, <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Canada?src=hash">#Canada</a>- planned protest at US Embassy on Sussex Dr Jan 30, 12-2pm. US cits should exercise caution.—@TravelGov