Toronto rally backs Libyan protests

About 350 people gather in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square to rally in support of anti-government protests in Libya and call for the ouster of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.
About 350 people supporting anti-government protests in Libya rally at Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday.

About 350 people gathered in Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square on Sunday to rally in support of anti-government protesters in Libya and call for the ouster of longtime leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Chanting "The world must know, Gadhafi has to go," the crowd carried signs and expressed outrage at the ruling regime's crackdown on protesters this weekend.

At least 200 people have died over the last seven days in clashes with Libyan forces.

Many who gathered in Toronto said they are struggling to stay informed about events in Libya, since a media crackdown has restricted the flow of information out of the country.

"We're talking to [our families], making sure they're safe," protest organizer Amal Abuzgaya told CBC News. "They've become the local media. Everybody's taping with their phones, uploading on Facebook, uploading on Twitter, on YouTube, so it can get out. People are doing what they can, they're giving blood, they're cleaning up the streets."

Abuzgaya, who was born in Canada, but whose extended family remains in Libya, said she's certain extensive bloodshed continues in that country..

"We really need to put pressure on the Parliament, on the United Nations, and on the Canadian government, to condemn what Gadaffi is doing there," Abuzgaya said. "We want them to come out and say that what Gadhafi is doing is unacceptable."

She added that despite the protesters' deaths, people in Libya are determined to push for regime change.

"We're fearful for our family and for our people," said Abuzgaya. "The people we're talking to there say 'they're killing us, but that's not going to stop us.'"

Mohammad Talib, who also attended the Toronto rally, said he believed change in Libya would come quickly, supported by the push for democratic reform that has spread across the Middle East in recent weeks.

"I've been waiting for this moment to be here since I was 12. My natural instincts have never accepted that regime. This is an exhilarating moment in time for all nations."

The rally remained peaceful, with traffic along Dundas West and Yonge Street honking frequently to show their support.

The rally comes eight days after Egyptians gathered in the same square to celebrate the departure of longtime leader Hosni Mubarak.