Toronto marchers back right to publish Muhammad cartoons
More than 100 demonstrators took to the streets in Toronto on Saturday to support free speech.
- TIMELINE: Muhammad cartoons
They were protesting against the sometimes violent riots that targeted Denmark and its embassies after a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad last year.
The strong reaction to the cartoons has highlighted the conflict between the Western ideal of freedom of speech and what some Muslims say is a blasphemous offence against a religious figure.
The Toronto demonstrators marched in front of the Danish consulate, where former TV news anchor Peter Kent said "any democracy worth its salt should be strong enough to endure the most controversial speech."
Kent represented the Canadian Coalition for Democracies, which seeks to change Canadian policy that they say "consistently fails to support sister democracies who share our values," such as India, Taiwan, the U.S. and Israel.
Daniel Dale, a York University student who helped organize the protest, said "we will not stand idly and meekly by while a democracy and ally is violently and senselessly attacked."
He does not endorse the cartoons, but backs the right to publish them, as Calgary-based Western Standard magazine did in February.
- FROM FEB. 13, 2006: Western Canadian magazine publishes Muhammad cartoons
Most Western publications did not reprint the cartoons, many saying they didn't want to give unnecessary offence. However, critics have said the publications had been intimidated.
Ezra Levant, Western Standard publisher, will speak in Toronto on Tuesday to explain why the magazine reprinted the cartoons.