Scuffles break out at rally between protesters and counter-protesters

Scuffles broke out at a rally held at City Hall Saturday afternoon by a group calling itself Concerned Citizens. A heated exchange ensued when about ten members of the group were met with about forty counter-protesters who denounced them as Islamophobic.

Similar rallies by Concerned Citizens groups were held in cities across Canada today. The members say they stand against, among other things, Sharia Law, a code of religious and moral conduct for Muslims.

The group’s members are also opposed to Motion 103, and they voiced their displeasure over what they believe to be potential restrictions on free speech arising from the motion. Their view was disputed by the larger group of protesters who condemned Islamophobia.

Motion 103 is a non-binding motion that calls on the government to condemn Islamophobia and study the best ways to quell an “increasing public climate of hate and fear.” It was tabled by Liberal MP Iqra Khalid last December. In mid-February, Federal Liberals supported the backbencher’s motion.

The motion has been the subject of rumours on right-wing websites implying that Motion 103 is a step toward Sharia Law in Canada and that it would repress free speech by criminalizing criticism of Islam. Motion 103 is not a bill so it cannot become law or make any changes to Canada’s existing laws that cover freedom of speech.