Thousands gather across the country to protest against Islamophobia

Thousands of people have gathered in downtown Toronto to protest against Islamophobia in front of the U.S. consulate, with the similar demonstrations taking place in across the country in Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver and across the Maritimes.

Protesters in Toronto assemble in front of U.S. consulate drumming, chanting, holding signs

Thousands of people are gathering in downtown Toronto to protest in front of the U.S. consulate against Islamophobia. (Devin Heroux/CBC)

Thousands of people have gathered in downtown Toronto to protest against Islamophobia in front of the U.S. consulate, with similar demonstrations taking place across the country in Montreal, Edmonton, Ottawa, Vancouver and across the Maritimes.

Organizers of the protest on Saturday say they want the Canadian government to condemn a controversial executive order by U.S. President Donald Trump that bans citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. That message was reflected on Saturday with protesters drumming, chanting and holding signs to show their opposition to Trump's policies.

On Friday in Seattle, U.S. District Judge James Robart ordered a halt "on a nationwide basis" to enforcement of the ban. In response, Trump said the temporary restraining order would be overturned.

Organizers of the protest said in a Facebook post that they want the repeal of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement, a 2004 pact that requires asylum-seekers to apply for refugee status in the first "safe" country in which they arrive.

"Canada must end racist, anti-refugee, anti-black, Islamophobic exclusion of migrants and refugees," the post reads.

Organizers also said they want to repeal federal legislation that they believe targets Muslims, including the Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices Act, a 2015 law aimed at preventing forced marriage, polygamy and "honour killings."
The protesters marched on University Avenue south to Queen Street West. (Helen Bagshaw/CBC)

And they said they want an end to the federal system of immigration detention, which they say is imprisonment of migrants without charges or trial.

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In Toronto, police closed University Avenue from Dundas Street West to Queen Street West for the demonstration.

Police also said they detained a man on Saturday who was shouting at the protesters, but he will be released later in the day without being charged. He was being held at Toronto Police Service's 52 Division.

"We detained him for his own safety," Const. Victor Kwong said.

Islamophobia refers to a hostility or dislike toward Muslims. Some say the word can be applied to attacks on Muslims as well.

The protest comes just under a week after an attack on a mosque in Quebec City that left six people dead. The mosque reopened for prayers on Saturday, six days after the shooting.